Companies want school buses to run


POSTED: Friday, December 18, 2009

Local bus companies have started a petition drive to restore state funding for student bus services.

The Hawaii Bus Service Association said yesterday it has already collected more than 10,000 signatures from students and parents supporting emergency funding for public school transportation.

“;School buses are the safest way for kids to get to school,”; spokesman Shawn Ching said at a news conference.

Ching said the lack of school buses will add to traffic congestion and unfairly affect rural families on all islands.

The association will be running advertising and lobbying the Board of Education, the governor and legislators with its “;Students First ... Save Our School Buses”; and has a Web site at http://www.HawaiiStudentsFirst.


;[Preview]  Changes In Local School Bus Services

Due to budget troubles the Board has voted to increase the bus rate and the distance from which school students must live to ride the bus.

Watch ]


The school board decided not to ask the Legislature for $12 million in emergency funds for student transportation this academic year, which likely means bus service will end by March or April, Ching said.

But Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto denied the association's contention that service would end by March.

“;I am disappointed that the Hawaii School Bus Association knowingly distributed unauthorized fliers with false information to student bus riders earlier this week,”; Hamamoto said.

She said the department and the board continue to look for solutions.

Board Chairman Garrett Toguchi said bus services are not a “;core need,”; but education officials are looking at ways to provide some service to younger students through June.

Starting in January, the board also plans to raise fares to 75 from 35 cents and to limit service to students in sixth to 12th grades living 1.5 miles away from school, instead of 1 mile.

Furloughs have already cut bus company revenue

10 percent, Association Vice President Roy Pfund said.

Education officials said transportation costs have been rising 15 percent a year.

Association officials said fuel and other costs have increased for bus companies.

Pfund said his association would be willing to meet with the board to discuss ways to reduce costs, including cutting routes.