Annual Town Meeting voted Monday to subsidize school bus fees, but even supporters of the measure said that's only the first step to improving the school transportation situation in Lexington.
By more than a majority vote on April 9, Lexington’s annual Town Meeting approved Article 17 to appropriate $316,250 to subsidize operation of the school bus transportation system in a move meant to lower school bus fees from $550 per student to $300.
Currently, a little more than 50 percent of Lexington Public Schools students arrive at school in a single-occupancy vehicle, and many parents say school bus fees is the biggest reason more don’t, according to a presentation by Safe Routes to School supporters.
An ad hoc School Transportation and Safety Study Committee has identified three areas where improvements are desirable, including school transportation, community education and public safety.
The town subsidy to lower school bus fees is a first step toward cutting into the estimated 500,000 cars per school year currently used for school transportation, according to supporters, who point to a similar arrangement that’s been successful in terms of improving bus ridership in Natick.
Speaking at Town Meeting on Monday, supporters of the proposal also spoke about the environmental and safety benefits of getting more students onto school buses and more single-occupancy vehicles out of the school day traffic equation.
Skeptics, however, questioned whether they were signing up for an experiment or an annual solution, and opined that addressing school transportation issues should fall within the school budget.
Even supporters of the measure acknowledged that lower bus fees alone won’t solve school transportation problems. Educational outreach and sidewalk/circulation improvements are also a part of the solution, they said.
So, with that in mind, we want to know, What do you think is the biggest deciding factor for families when it comes to school transportation? Take our poll or let us know in the comment section below.