MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When high school students go back to school in Minneapolis in a little more than a week, many of them won’t have the option of riding the school bus. Instead, they’ll have to take the city bus or light rail to school starting Aug. 27.
The district decided to get rid of school busing and partner with Metro Transit for transportation. Minneapolis is one of many cities to do this; others include Chicago, New York City and Seattle.
For Gary Vang, a junior at Patrick Henry High School, it means he’ll no longer go to the school bus, but the closest city bus stop to get a ride. And he isn’t too excited about it.
“I’d rather take the school bus,” he said.
Vang’s parents also aren’t too keen on the change.
“They’re just afraid that something could start on the city bus,” he said.
For Mary Hanson’s 14-year-old son, Jacob, the ride to school would be twice as long.
“It would have been at least two buses to get to school, and three buses on the way home,” she said.
Students at Patrick Henry, Edison, North, Roosevelt, Washburn, and Wellstone can get a Go-To Student pass for the city bus or light rail.
South and Southwest high schools will make the switch next year.
Stan Alleyne, of Minneapolis Public Schools, says city transportation provides a lot more flexibility for students who don’t have the resources.
“This was an equity issue,” he said. “We wanted students – regardless of where they live in the city — to have access to activities, events, jobs before and after school.”
Hundreds of high school students in Minneapolis have been trying out this program over the last couple of years.
Alleyne says it has worked out great, and despite the apprehension from some parents, the district has a lot of parents who support the change.
Hanson says the change was one of the factors in sending Jacob to private school this fall, instead of Washburn.
“To make it twice as long and have to take three buses would just be really a pain,” Jacob Hanson said.
Vang, who had never ridden on a city bus before this summer, says he’s more open to it now.
“I took the city bus a couple of times to work. It’s not so bad…I’m just cautious about it,” he said.
The estimated cost to make the switch is around a $1 million, and in the long run, it’s expected to save the district money.
Metro Transit is considered to have one of the safest transportation systems in the country. There are multiple surveillance cameras on every city bus, and every bus is monitored by GPS.
The drivers on routes with several high school students will be made aware that they will have new riders.
The school district is starting a new program to keep tabs on every student taking public transportation.
Every student with a Go-To Student pass will be paired up with a school official who will check in with them on a regular basis to see how their trip to and from school is going.
The Go-To Student passes will only be effective from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on a daily basis.
For more information on the student pass, go to Metro Transit’s website.