NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — A new express school bus shuttle is expected to cut ride time in half for some middle and high school students here.

Comal Independent School District (ISD) is preparing to launch the shuttle program for the 2015-16 school year, which starts Aug. 25. The shuttle will serve students in the Garden Ridge area of the district who attend Canyon Middle School or Canyon High School, both of which are in New Braunfels.

Garden Ridge currently doesn’t have its own middle school or high school. The town is about 18 miles from Canyon Middle and Canyon High.

Comal ISD officials said that the express bus shuttle will decrease travel time between Garden Ridge and those two schools from about 45-60 minutes to about 20-30 minutes.

The shuttle will pick up students at the Garden Ridge Elementary School at 7:45 a.m. and then drop them off at Canyon Middle or Canyon High. After school, the shuttle will pick up the students at about 4 p.m. and then drop them off back at Garden Ridge Elementary.

To ride the shuttle, students will have to be dropped off and picked up at Garden Ridge Elementary. Students who drive won’t be allowed to leave their cars in the school’s parking lot during the day to ride the shuttle.

“The main purpose of this bus shuttle is to reduce the ride time for students,” said Gus Rodriguez, director of transportation services for Comal ISD. “This will be a point A to B route, as compared to the regular bus route, which is composed of multiple stops along the way."

Rodriguez added that although parents have to get their students to and from Garden Ridge Elementary, the express shuttle “dramatically reduces ride time.”

The shuttle service will be a temporary solution for middle school students in Garden Ridge. A local bond measure that passed in May will fund the building of a middle school in Garden Ridge. When the school opens in August 2018, those students won’t need to commute to New Braunfels — until they reach high school.

Comal ISD is a geographically large district with a growing enrollment. The district encompasses 589 square miles of central Texas in five counties.

Since 2006, Comal ISD has grown by about 5,000 students, for a current total enrollment of more than 20,000. The district gains about 800 new students per year and is reportedly one of the fastest growing districts of its size in the state.

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