Caltrans supports restrictions on bus routes

UPDATE: A week later, Caltrans changed its tune. On June 26, the agency wrote another letter stating that it no longer supports the proposed federal restrictions.

Remember the proposed change in federal transportation rules that could make it illegal for AC Transit and other bus agencies to provide special routes to schools? A change apparently designed to benefit private, “yellow school bus” companies?

Our transportation reporter, Erik Nelson, has learned that the California Department of Transportation thinks it’s a good idea. Caltrans submitted this comment yesterday, to the dismay of local public transit and school officials.

Why would Caltrans take such a position, when so many school districts rely on public transit agencies to schlep their students to and from school? I don’t believe Nelson got a response from Caltrans today, so we don’t have an official explanation, aside from the comment submitted to the feds.

But local transit officials suspect it’s because, as a state agency, Caltrans is expected to back the governor’s transportation policies. They note that Schwarzenegger wants to put tax proceeds earmarked for public transportation into a fund for “home-to-school transportation” — a.k.a. yellow bus service.

Read the full story, by Nelson, in tomorrow’s paper.

On a community empowerment note: The chief counsel for the American Public Transportation Association, which represents AC Transit, told Nelson today that an unusually high number of public comments on the issue were submitted by ordinary citizens — many, from Oakland.

(Here is the letter the Oakland school district submitted today to the Federal Transit Administration, arguing against the proposal.)

The public comment period for this issue officially expired Wednesday, but (since Caltrans and OUSD wrote in after the deadline) I believe you can still submit your position online with the Federal Transit Administration at: http://www.regulations.gov, or fax it to: 202-493-2251. The proposal is listed under Docket No. FTA-2008-0015.

photo by Alex Molloy, Tribune staff

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • John

    If the district can’t afford paying for bus service to Skyline the neighborhood around that hills neighborhood campus could well be deprived of its imported roving diversity. There have been unresolved complaints from that neighborhood about it for years.

    However, life’s greatest learning opportunities come through trial and tribulation, and now trial and tribulation’s transportation to a hill school neighborhood is being threatened!

    If Skyline loses too much imported (student) ADA money the school could be shut down, go private and regress to its long ago higher academic standard boring self.

    Skyline’s neighbors could realize a wind fall savings with a reduced need for security services, a savings the City of Oakland would probably tax to improve or maintain services at the low elevations.

    Life is so unfair.

  • TheTruthHurts

    As long as the state pays for education and the District is paid by the state, I imagine it is the responsibility of the Disrict to educate ALL students and find creative ways to do so. Given that state-funded education is being paid for anyway through taxes, I would assume all taxpayers (especially those with school-age children) would want to work to improve the quality for all. As John eludes, the District must look at revenues and expenses across the District and not just by individual school. Let’s hope this gets resolved without hurting students.

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  • http://www.gurucreation.com Taylor

    This is right here, in the present, not the future.