Students Face Loss Of Bus Service

Families Concerned About Changes, Price Hikes

 UPDATED 9:37 PM HST Jan 04, 2010
KAPOLEI, Hawaii -

Starting Tuesday hundreds of public school children will head back to the classroom after the holiday break to face changes to the school bus service.

Oahu residents can expect more congestion on the road, crowded buses and more students walking to school.

Kapolei Middle School was one of a handful of campuses where class was in session on Monday because of a multi-track system. The one thing school staff saw were lots of families paying for the increased bus passes at the last minute. ?

"So far so good, parents have been coming in to pay the bus fees and we are ready to roll," Kapolei Middle School Principal Annette Nishikawa said.

The school board approved hiking the one-way fares from 35 cents to 75 cents and the quarterly pass from $31.50 to $60. Some parents are still reeling over the higher fees.

"It's kind of a shock to see it more than doubled," Kapolei parent Kimberly Fry said.

Faced with a budget squeeze, the Department of Education not only hiked the fees, but also changed the criteria for who gets to ride the bus in an effort to reduce the number of riders. Some students will either have to walk to campus or be driven to school.

What stands to cause perhaps the most problem is the elimination of bus service at certain high schools where the city bus is an option.

Letters KITV obtained between the city Transportation Department and the DOE show the two sides at odds over the plan. ?

The city wrote, "Your proposal shifts the burden of students to the city's bus system at a time when the city is unable to expand its current service to accommodate the increased passenger demand."

Deputy superintendent Randy Moore told KITV that the DOE had been talking with the city for the past year about the proposal. He responded saying,?"The Department of Education was under the impression the city would be able to accommodate additional students and made our plans accordingly."

Part of the changes to bus routes includes an increase to the zones that bus pick up is barred. The new rule moves the no-bus zone from 1 mile of a school to 1.5 miles.

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