As if the economy hasn’t hit school transportation coffers hard enough this year, the news outlets reported last week that 10,000 students in the Seattle, Bellevue, Washington and Lake Mercer school districts could see their mass transit passes affected by 33 percent fare increases from the King County metro system.
Does such a move make sense in today’s economy?
The state has been working for a couple of years on reformulating school transportation funding. The article says state officials are hoping to be able to fully fund their service “and make cost increases like this disappear — but when that will happen is uncertain.
It’s an interesting move from the transit provider despite tens of billions of dollars in stimulus funds this year. But, more and more mass transit systems are turning to fare hikes to curb their own budget deficits caused by rising unemployment. There have been comments for a while now that mass transit should be doing the opposite, namely lowering fares to provide relief to those struggling financially. As a result, ridership could skyrocket.
And, certainly, that would be an attractive move for many schools.