HONOLULU (KITV4) -- The Hawaii Department of Education is launching a pilot program that aims to expand transportation options for high school students statewide.
The program will expand subsidized county bus passes for high schoolers in grades 9 through 12.
The Expanding Ridership to Educate Students in Schools program, or EXPRESS, aims to help mitigate the impacts of the national school bus driver shortage, education officials said.
“We started this school year down roughly 90 bus drivers, and every bus we can reassign will help us to prioritize impacted routes at our elementary and intermediate schools. We thank our county transportation partners and our high school students for being a part of the solution,” said Superintendent Keith Hayashi.
Officials say that expanding free bus transportation services will benefit more than 21,000 students who are currently ineligible because they live within the walk zone of their school campus.
“Like other school districts across the nation, Hawaii is addressing a shortage of school bus drivers that has led to canceled routes, schedule delays and passenger waitlists, as our contractors work hard to maintain services with fewer drivers,” Hayashi said.
Approved applicants will receive a confirmation and their county bus pass directly through their school, officials said.
Oahu recipients will receive one county pass that will be valid through July 2023. The City & County of Honolulu will be funding the cost of passes on Oahu for June and July 2023.
Recipients on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island will receive passes that are good for each month through July 2023.
Parents and guardians will be responsible for finding the nearest county bus route to and from their student’s school and for finding the safest walking routes to and from the nearest bus stops.