By Beth Meyerhoff, Education Legislation Advocate
SB 878 (Skinner)
Yellow Buses for Every TK-12 California Public School
California State PTA supports Road to Success, a bill which will make sure that every TK-12 public school student has bus transportation to school. When kids don’t have a way to get to school, they miss school.
Senate Bill 878 (Skinner) would create a universal state-funded bus plan. Districts would not be allowed to charge families a fee for transportation to school. Current California law does not require school districts to transport students and only around 9% of California students ride the bus to school (the lowest rate of any state) according to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey administered by the Federal Highway Administration. Federal law does require districts to transport certain students such as students with disabilities, students attending Federally Sanctioned Schools and homeless students.
Studies show a strong relationship between access to transportation and improved school attendance, according to an EdSource article. The California Department of Education also identifies lack of transportation as one of the most common reasons cited for missing school.
Moreover, guaranteed transportation increases the likelihood of a student graduating high school.
Other benefits of school bus transportation include potentially eliminating 17 million cars on the road nationally while reducing greenhouse gas emissions if zero-emission vehicles are used. Buses are a safer mode of transportation than cars according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. The American School Bus Council reports that students are seventy times more likely to get to school safely due to stop arm laws and safety features such as seat belts.
SB 878 would begin funding in 2022-23 in order to give school districts time to purchase buses and leverage resources to better attract and retain bus drivers. Implementation would begin in the 2023-24 school year.
California State PTA has long supported legislation to fund the cost of transporting pupils as stated in our resolutions, School Transportation and School Transportation – Equitable and Adequate Funding.
California State PTA believes that school attendance leads to student achievement. Universal bus transportation removes a barrier to school attendance and helps ensure that every child has the chance for success in school.