Nearly 7,500 students in Hillsborough County’s middle and high schools could lose their bus rides in the next school year, as the district continues to cut spending, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The students are “courtesy riders” who live within two miles of their schools. That’s the point at which the state considers transportation a parent’s responsibility.
The changes, which take effect in August, represent part of a plan that will extend later to elementary schools.
In addition to 7,495 who stand to lose bus rides, 803 will keep their rides because of roadside hazards. The state criteria for hazards include traffic volume, speed limit and whether a road has a wide enough shoulder. The law does not require a sidewalk.
Gibson Consulting Group, which is working with the district to cut spending, estimated Hillsborough can save $9.5 million a year by phasing out courtesy busing. Beekman said the savings will be lower, as some buses will remain in service.
A report this year by the Tampa Bay Times, using state data, showed there were 51 pedestrian fatalities in Hillsborough County in 2015. Hillsborough’’s roads were the deadliest in the Tampa Bay area, which Smart Growth America ranked as the second most dangerous place to walk in the United States.
The same process will be repeated for elementary schools before the 2018-19 school year.
Phasing out courtesy rides is one of many steps the district is taking to cut $130 million in spending and protect its reserve account and credit rating.