SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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March 6, 2014

Peabody mom wants to meet school bus fee halfway

PEABODY — Up to now in Peabody if you wanted your kids to take the bus to school you had to buy a round-trip ticket. The problem is, many only use the bus one way. And that’s left at least one parent wondering why she must pay full price for a service her kids would utilize less than half the time.

“It became an issue for me when my child went to high school,” explains Amy Sliva. She drives her daughter to school in the morning and in the afternoons arranges for her to get a ride home. “I would like her to have the option to take the bus home. ... I’m not going to buy a pass if she’s not going to use it 80 percent of the time.”

Moreover, Sliva has another child who will soon be attending high school.

The cost is not a small matter in most households. A bus pass costs a parent $300 per school year. For parents with more than one student on the bus, the cost tops out at $600. “The point is just to have options,” she says. Other parents, whose children play sports or have after-school activities, find themselves paying for round trips that just aren’t available to their kids. By the time their activities are done there is no bus available.

Sliva isn’t sure if the cost would be halved for a one-way ticket, but if not she hopes it would at least be substantially reduced. She notes that some surrounding cities and towns already give parents the benefit of one-way passes, including Salem, Beverly and Wakefield. Beverly, she says, “Does cut the price in half.” She adds that the Beverly program has run smoothly for years.

That’s confirmed by Beverly’s transportation manager Bill Burke, who says, “It seems to work well.” More important, he says, is the assistance given to families.

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