Bus ridership up 25 percent at Tahoe Truckee schools | SierraSun.com

Bus ridership up 25 percent at Tahoe Truckee schools

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunBuses line up outside Truckee Elementary School Thursday afternoon.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; When the school district announced it would charge parents for their child’s bus pass this year, transportation officials figured ridership numbers would drop.

The numbers don’t agree.

After averaging about 2,000 riders over the past four years, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Transportation Director Nanette Rondeau said ridership this year is up 25 percent, to about 2,542 riders per day.

and#8220;We’re just seeing a lot more students ride and#8212; we’re not sure why it is,and#8221; Rondeau said. and#8220;We haven’t really surveyed parents.and#8221;

Part of the bump comes from the district’s lakeside reconfiguration, which has added about 175 riders busing daily from Kings Beach to Tahoe Lake Elementary in Tahoe City or vice versa. That leaves, though, some 325 extra riders.

and#8220;We’d predicted a decrease in ridership,and#8221; said Rondeau, after the district’s board this year approved a parent pay bus pass, ranging from $65 to $150 per student, depending on that family’s financial situation.

and#8220;We saw a decline in first-year ridership at most of the school districts we’d surveyed who went to parent pay. Generally, ridership doesn’t increase until the second year, so we were predicting we’d have about 85 percent of what we had last year.and#8221;

Derrick Rodgers, a Truckee parent, said while he isn’t happy with the extra expense, he doesn’t have many options.

and#8220;I don’t really have the time to both drop my kid off and then pick up in the afternoon, so you just pay it and move on,and#8221; Rodgers said. and#8220;It’s an extra expense, but you still have to get your kid to school.and#8221;

As of the end of October, 1,269 passes were sold at the full price (first child $150, second and third $50, fourth rides free), 1,097 free passes were given away and 161 sold at the reduced rate ($65 for first student, $40 for siblings).

Whether a student pays full, reduced or not at all equates to his or her family’s financial situation and is determined by qualifications for the state’s free and reduced lunch program.

The parent pay plan was spawned out of this year’s budget reduction process as a way for the transportation/special education budget to reduce its estimated $800,000 encroachment on the district’s general fund.

Rondeau said the parent play pan is projected to make a revenue of about $50,000 this year to deduct from the encroachment.

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District recently informed the school district’s transportation department it would receive $140,000 for about six diesel particulate traps, which reduce emissions generated by school buses.

The Environmental Protection Agency has commanded all school bus fleets become at least 21 percent EPA compliant with the agency’s emissions standards by 2010. According to TTUSD’s transportation department, the addition of the particulate traps means the district’s fleet is 71 percent compliant.

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