Petaluma City Schools Eliminates Bus Service

Will add new city buses to help families who can't drop off kids at school

Kids relying on the school bus to get to and from school will have to find other means of transport when classes resume at August 22.

The new policy will impact about 600 students who live more than three miles from their school and will now have to take the city bus or find a carpool. Students who are disabled will continue to be bused in along with students who live in rural areas, although these routes will be consolidated.

The changes are being implemented because the district, which has about 10,000 students, is facing $3.3 million in budget cuts this year, unless Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative passes in November.

“We would prefer to not do this, but if we don’t, we’re talking about imposing classroom cuts,” said Midge Hoffman, chief financial officer for the district. “Depending on what happens in November, we’re looking at two scenarios: worse and even worse.”

To account for the dropped school bus service, the district has partnered with Petaluma Transit, which will add a new bus to its current service for morning and afterschool runs. 

The bus will pick up students from the main bus station on Maria Drive, travel to Kenilworth Junior High by 7:30am then continue south to Casa Grande High School to drop kids off by 8:15am. It will then repeat the same route in the afternoon, arriving at Kenilworth at 2:45pm and then at Casa by 3:10pm.

“It’s a good thing the school end times are spaced out,” said Joe Rye, Petaluma’s transit manager. “Otherwise we’d have a transportation nightmare.”

The change has created panic among some parents, who aren’t able to take their children to school due to conflicting work schedules or lack of a car.

But Hoffman says she is sure the city buses, along with continued (albeit consolidated) service to Penngrove, Two Rock and rural Petaluma will pick up the slack.

“This has been an incredible dialogue with the city transportation department and we were able to make use of all types of services without duplicating them,” Hoffman said. “It’s a testament to how committed the community is to its schools.”

Students already make up about 40 percent of city bus riders and the latest change will only increase these numbers. To help students pay for the city bus, Petaluma Transit will offer students who qualify for free or reduced lunches $20 quarterly bus passes that can be used on all routes. To purchase a bus pass, click here.

Will your child be impacted by the elimination of school bus service? Sound off in the comments below.

Alex Horvath August 08, 2012 at 12:43 PM
The rural kids are the ones that suffer with this. Not to mention more cars on the roads, traffic, accidents, etc. Here's hoping that Brown's budget passes and that the schools can absorb the transportation costs.
Butch Paula August 08, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Quick question: if the budget cuts would not go into effect until next year, then why is the school district making changes in this school year? I will answer that-because education, police and fire are always the first things that are threatened with reductions. It's an easy way for politicians to make us increase taxes on ourselves. If we don't pass the new taxes initiatives in November, then the school district should make these or other changes necessary to get their budget in line..
John Comeau August 08, 2012 at 04:07 PM
nothing wrong with kids using the transit buses, that's the way it's done in London among other places. I for one will be glad to see those ugly yellow buses gone; and kids will not grow up thinking that traffic will stop for them crossing the road, a dangerous idea that they now learn, only to have to unlearn later.
Betty Harrison August 08, 2012 at 08:31 PM
In what way is rural Sonoma County like London? The kids who will suffer the most are the children of farm workers, who need school more than most. Many will no longer attend. Is this a fair and equal public education system? Remind me where I live...
Magali Dureuil Forsyth August 08, 2012 at 09:11 PM
It's simple mathematics. The city cannot pay for a service that only touches 600 people when in fact mos tof an alternative. While i do feel bad for the kids who actually live in the country, i doubt most people are aware the bus also does drop off/pick up in not so rural parts of towns. While i am running out the door to school then work, i see a bus near by house that picks up who are going to school not far and whose parents have cars. If only those who need it used it maybe we wouldn't get to this drastic solution.
Xyzzy August 09, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Funny to think that when I was a student, kids a mile away could get a quick ride to/from school for free... Then again, that was just at the start of when we had to start spending tons on bilingual ed or gangs, and before our city started overdeveloping this side of town up the wazoo.
Darris August 09, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Hate to sound like an old foggie here but I walked a good two miles one way to school in my 7th grade year until they built a school closer to home. I still walked throughout high school but it was only about a mile each way. Rural families do have a challenge and people will get creative when they must. I do tend to agree that emergency services and schools are used as emotional bait to raise taxes. Tough choices . . .


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