CATA is proud to partner with the Lansing School District to offer transportation for high school students when classes resume this fall. Under the plan announced last week, CATA will provide transportation for ninth through 12th graders attending Eastern, Everett and Sexton high schools.
Students will receive a free bus pass, which they can use anytime, anywhere on the CATA system. One additional pass will be available per household, which will allow a parent to accompany their student aboard CATA, catch a ride to work, or travel for family errands and activities. The school district will pay for all passes. For parents who opt to drive their student to school, the district will offer a free gas card.
Ongoing bus driver shortages are a challenge in our region and across the nation. These shortages are also the root cause of many of the difficulties school districts experienced last year getting students to school on time. I’m confident these issues will be infrequent under the new plan. CATA prides itself on its on-time performance. Of course weather, detours, trains, traffic and mechanical issues can cause delays. This is true for public and private transit operators alike.
Some parents have expressed concerns about the plan, mostly regarding student safety. I can assure you that riding CATA is just as safe as any other transportation option, perhaps even safer. Students of all ages have safely ridden CATA to and from school for decades, and CATA will go the extra mile to ensure the safety of every student using our services. Last year, when CATA provided 250 bus passes for use by LSD students, we received zero complaints from students and parents about safety-related issues.
CATA also is in the process of recruiting amBUSsadors — responsible adults who will board Routes 5, 11 and 13 in pairs and ride to the three high schools. On a monthly basis, each will receive a free 31-day Adult bus pass and a stipend. They’ll also receive intense training and cool CATA swag.
Job duties include riding buses, keeping an eye out for student riders, answering questions, and providing guidance and support. Interested? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As with all CATA bus operators, a background check, physical and drug-screening are required. In addition, CATA has a strong supervisory presence at the downtown CTC and throughout our system.
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CATA’s diverse ridership reflects our region’s population, and our student riders are no exception. Easy access to public transit promotes equity and enhances social and economic opportunities, including jobs, education, healthcare, social services, and access to essential services like grocery stores. This is especially true for low-income and historically underserved populations. The LSD-CATA partnership will empower Lansing families to find pathways to prosperity while helping our young people get to and from school on time.
CATA has proudly served Greater Lansing’s public transit needs for more than 50 years. We look forward to adding even more value to our community through our partnership with the Lansing School District.
Bradley T. Funkhouser is CEO of the Capital Area Transportation Authority.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: CATA and Lansing schools, helping students get to school on time