Laymond Gray, whose family lives in the “Desert Highland Gateway Estates” neighborhood of North Palm Springs talked about his children and his girlfriend’s child, lining up at the SunLine bus stop every morning to ride and from Palm Springs High School.
“We don’t want public transportation, we want safety, we want our children to be funneled between home and school,” said Gray.
The Palm Springs Unified School District eliminated bus service for high school students more than ten years ago, citing budgetary restraints.
But Gray, a Palm Springs native and community advocate, would like to see school bus service restored for high schoolers.
“Back when I was a high schooler a few years ago we did have school buses,” said Gray.
The father of three says he’s concerned about safety with students riding busses with strangers, and in some cases, long distances with multiple stops. He also believes using school buses would reduce absenteeism.
For some families, he says the bus fare adds up.
His children pay one dollar each way.
“Our city is only growing, we’re going to have different people coming and going in and out of the city that are using these transit systems,” said Gray.
At Palm Springs Unified, the Coordinator of Transportation says the district would certainly like to provide school bus service for high school students, if the funds were available.
The district currently spends $7 million a year on buses for elementary and middle school students.
“We did do an internal survey just to see if the bus service had any effect on attendance and it really doesn’t have an effect because we checked both kids that ride and kids that don’t ride,” Bob Spinuzza, the Coordinator of Transportation.
The district says Palm Springs High School provides bus fare financial assistance for students who qualify for it and apply.
A representative for SunLine provided this written statement:
“SunLine transit agency proudly serves the community with safe transportation for passengers of all ages, including many students who rely on SunLine to get to school since the districts do not provide transportation. This is common practice throughout the United States.”
SunLine is also looking to expand its “Haul Pass” program to offer free rides to Coachella Valley high school students.
Still, Gray says the primary issue is safety, and says he will now focus his efforts on the school board.