School district officials are scheduled to meet with SEPTA folks tomorrow to discuss whether there is a way to avoid the threatened cuts in student Transpasses, the district announced today.
To help close a $629 million gap in next year's budget, officials have proposed eliminating bus services and Transpasses for district and non-public school students. The district estimates the move will save them $50 million.
More than 34,000 Philadelphia students in district-operated public schools and nearly 12,000 students in non-public schools rely on student Transpasses, the district says.
"The School District is hopeful that they will lead to a positive outcome," said a statement the district released. "The District looks forward to working with SEPTA to find a way to maintain vital transportation services for the students and parents of Philadelphia despite the massive budget problem currently confronting the School District."
The way it's set up, the district pays SEPTA about $26 million a year to provide them Transpasses for every eligible student and in turn the district gets reimbursed by the state. But the problem lies, according to district officials, in the timing. The state's reimbursement typically arrives 12-24 months after the purchases of Transpasses and expenses for bus drivers and fuel costs have been made.
"The District has acknowledged that its savings from the proposed 2012 transportation cuts will be greatly reduced in 2013 and thereafter because the cuts in 2012 will result in lower transportation subsidies in 2013."
Nonetheless, the threat of eliminating busing and Transpasses has weighed heavily on parents and students who travel outside of their school catchment areas to attend school.
Advocates also warn that without busing, truancy rate and tardiness will soar.