BALTIMORE — A community activism group is calling on Baltimore residents to come up with ways to make school travel more efficient for the city’s students.
The group, called Hack Baltimore, will hold a brainstorming event on Saturday. The gathering is expected to bring together transportation and safety advocates, community activists, students and education officials to discuss the transportation challenges that Baltimore City Public Schools and its students face.
In announcing the event, Hack Baltimore pointed to examples of students enduring long commutes or expensive taxi rides to and from school.
“Tisha lives far from public transit, but by law the Baltimore City Public Schools must provide transportation. The schools pay for a taxi to drop her off and pick her up,” the Hack Baltimore announcement says. “Because she is an elementary student, Tisha’s mother has to accompany her. The result is two round-trip cab fares.”
In all, the school district reportedly spends about $5 million per year on taxis, mostly for homeless students.
Another student highlighted by Hack Baltimore, Samuel, spends more than three hours a day traveling to his high school on a transit bus, a subway and then another transit bus.
With those types of transportation situations in mind, community members will convene at the Baltimore Design School on Saturday to try to develop new solutions for student travel. At the end of the event, Baltimore City Public Schools officials will choose the best proposals, and the district will provide seed funding and other resources to help develop the ideas into prototypes.
Selected teams will have 60 days to turn their proposals into prototypes, which will then be demonstrated to school district officials. According to Hack Baltimore, the most promising projects will be put into effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.
While the Hack Baltimore announcement focuses on the use of public transit and taxis for student travel, Baltimore City Public Schools also uses yellow school buses for some students. For example, elementary school students who live more than 1 mile from their neighborhood school qualify for yellow bus service.
Transit passes are given to middle and high school students who live more than 1.5 miles from their school.
For more information on the Hack Baltimore event, go here.