PEABODY — Students will be able to ride the school bus one way next year without paying the price of a round-trip fare.
The School Committee has agreed to offer one-way passes on a trial basis following review of transportation data and a proposal from parent Amy Sliva, who is a member of the Parent Advisory Board.
Bus passes now cost $300 per student with a $600 family cap. The exact price for a one-way pass is to be determined, but committee members indicated they would consider $150.
Sliva, who already has one daughter at Peabody High and a second child who will soon attend, said the full cost is prohibitive for parents, especially if their children are going to ride the bus less than half the time. She doesn’t buy a bus pass for her daughter, but instead drives her to school in the morning and arranges for a ride in the afternoon.
School Business Manager David Keniston provided a breakdown of projected costs to the School Committee at a recent meeting, showing the service would likely be a financial loss for the district.
Keniston said the transportation budget is built upon an expectation of $325,000 in bus pass revenue, which was slightly exceeded this year, but came in $8,000 short last year. Twenty-three buses are needed to cover the city, and the per bus cost will be $53,039 in fiscal 2015.
He said that cost is “inescapable” due to the logistics of transporting 3,000 students around the city twice a day, plus late buses and service for private schools. A one-way pass could merely reduce revenue, but would have no effect on overall expenses.
Keniston said it’s uncertain how many customers would subscribe, but he envisions parents might then start asking for one-way morning passes for half the year and evening passes the other half. That could get too convoluted for bus drivers to deal with in addition to extra pass colors or designations to differentiate one-way riders from round-trip fares.