CATA becomes ride provider for Lansing School District high schoolers

LANSING — Lansing School District is dropping school bus routes for high school students starting this school year, opting instead to provide public transportation passes.

At a press conference Friday, Superintendent Benjamin Shuldiner announced that Dean Transportation, the school district’s busing provider, will no longer pick up high school students. Instead, the school district will provide all high school students who qualify for transportation and their families with Capital Area Transportation Authority passes.

“The Lansing School District is incredibly excited to announce a brand-new transportation plan that will better serve the students of Lansing, as well as the broader community,” Shuldiner said in a press release.

Lansing School District and Dean Transportation, the district's bussing provider, will no longer offer bus rides for high school students.  Starting this school year, high school students and their families will have the option of receiving bus passes from Capital Area Transportation Authority for rides to and from school and around the city.

Dean Transportation will continue to provide busing for K-8 students, students enrolled in special education programs in the school district, and transportation to events and competitions for athletics teams and other extracurricular groups, Shuldiner said.

The total investment in the CATA bus cards is unclear while the school district determines how many students and families will want the passes, Shuldiner said. He expects the cost the cards to be about the same amount it cost the district to have Dean Transportation shuttle high school students to and from school.

CATA has bus stops scattered across Lansing and students will be dropped off at stops that already exist near Sexton and Everett high schools. A stop will be constructed near Eastern High School.

Shuldiner hopes the new transportation plan will bring more than 1,000 high school students onto the buses and to school each school day. Last year, about one-third of the district’s high school students rode a bus to school, he said.

The decision was at least partly driven by the bus driver shortage and issues it created for schools last year, including late-arriving routes and missed routes. With the CATA routes, if students miss their ride, a bus will drive by on the same route several more times.

More: Michigan bus driver shortage leads to hourlong delays, stranded students

CATA’s routes run throughout the day, giving students opportunities to stay after school for tutoring or extracurricular activities, Shuldiner said, including such things as rehearsals, athletic events and athletic practices, and still have access to a ride home.

Moving to CATA also should benefit those high school students who live in multiple homes in Lansing, Shuldiner said.

Additional “tripper” buses will be added to CATA’s public routes in the mornings and afternoons when officials know students will be going to or leaving school, he said.

Two Lansing School District public safety officers will be at the CATA Transportation Center in downtown Lansing in the mornings and afternoons to monitor and help students riding the buses.

Students will receive a family pass, allowing students and families to make trips throughout Lansing for school, work, shopping, recreation and other activities.

“If we can help subsidize transportation, that comes back to the city 100%,” Shuldiner said.

Other large school districts in Michigan offer similar busing programs, including Grand Rapids Public Schools, which, like Lansing School District, continues to offer school bus routes for preschool, elementary, middle school and special education students, while high school students can take Grand Rapids public transportation, The Rapid, to school.

This story will be updated.

Contact Mark Johnson at (517) 377-1026 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.

Comments are closed.