School buses could be rolling by fall | February 13, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - February 13, 2009

School buses could be rolling by fall

Measure J funded program to provide service to some local schools

by Geoff Gillette

Some students could be arriving at school by bus as early as this fall. TRAFFIX, an agency created through Measure J funds, is nearly ready to begin busing children to six schools in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, said Danville Transportation Director Tai Williams.

Williams provided a quick overview of the agency, which is a partnership between Danville, San Ramon, Contra Costa County and the school district, at the Feb. 3 Danville Town Council meeting.

TRAFFIX has introduced a school bus program aimed at reducing congestion in problem areas during the critical morning rush hour. The program is funded from sales tax revenues accumulated through Measure J.

During the past two years, officials from the cooperating agencies have been meeting and working on which schools would be best served as initial subjects for the pilot program. Williams said six schools were chosen for the start of TRAFFIX:

• Tassajara Hills Elementary

• Green Valley Elementary

• Walt Disney Elementary

• Country Club Elementary

• Los Cerros Middle School

• Pine Valley Middle School

TRAFFIX is slated to receive $40 million in Measure J funding, in order to get the program off the ground. However, rider fees will help to cover ongoing costs once the program is started.

When the SRVUSD provided bus service recently, the cost for students was $400 per year. Williams said that because they are trying to build up ridership and get more students on the buses they will be offering an introductory fee of $250 per year for the first few years.

Based on surveys conducted at the six schools, about 2,000 students are expected to ride the bus next year when the program starts.

Williams said they are in the final stages of negotiation with a company to provide the buses. She said the company, First Student, has promised to purchase a new fleet of low emissions buses.

"That goes along with the theme that using the buses will not only lower congestion in those areas but it will also help improve air quality," she explained.

Routes are being worked on and an administrator to oversee the bus program is in the process of being hired. Once the contract with First Student is finalized, it intends to get to the affected schools and begin the registration process.

"Registration will begin shortly after spring break," said Williams. "Our goal is to sign folks up before the school year ends. This allows us as an agency to provide all the services that will be in demand."

Williams said that the agency had been looking at the possibility of expanding the program to include other schools within five years, but the economic downturn and the subsequent loss of sales tax revenues to Measure J may extend that move out another two to three years.


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