Spokane Public Schools introducing transportation plan before school year

SPOKANE, Wash. — The 2022-23 school year is almost here, and Spokane Public Schools is preparing for what’s to come.

SPS will be introducing a transportation plan before the start of the new school year. The busing proposal consists of four strategies in an effort to enhance bus operations for students in Spokane.

During the 2021-22 school year, there were 85 school bus drivers and 91 bus routes. According to projections for the 2022-23 school year, there will be 97 bus drivers with nine additional substitute drivers. There will also be around 110-120 routes available. There is an additional 10 bus drivers in training, and 24 applicants are in screening.

The first strategy in the proposal includes improving the transportation registration process and increasing the efficiency of routes with fewer bus stops. According to SPS, Transportation, communication and IT departments worked together to set a registration deadline for July 15. They got over 5,200 registrations for general education transportation and over 500 requests for special education. It is all part of route planning for this school year, and bust stops have consolidated.

The second strategy discusses an increased walking boundary from one mile to 1.5 miles for middle schools and high schools. The changes were implemented into routing software before the registration process started. It updated the registration busing page and was sent to families. They also evaluated new and existing hazards in the area.

In the third strategy of the proposal, they would evaluate alternate transportation options to supplement yellow school bus services. The request for proposals process was completed on August 3. It was recommended that Zum Services Inc. would provide van transportation services. The vans would serve students in special programs and in the McKinney-Vento program.

Lastly, the final strategy would increase high schoolers riding the bus through a partnership with Spokane Transit Authority. In July, the STA board approved a policy that would allow kids ages 18 and under to ride the bus for free. They also identified areas that were not well served by STA for all five high schools and tripper route needs based on the registrations.

There is over 80 percent of registered high school students within STA service areas.

Approaching the next steps of the strategy, SPS plans to communicate with families and students on how to use STA services and how to be a successful rider. They are also looking to finalize an agreement between SPS and STA and complete logistics on passing out STA passes.

READ: Spokane Transit announces package of service changes coming in August

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