Legislation Would Guarantee Student Transportation in California
Legislation Would Guarantee Student Transportation in California

New state legislation would guarantee transportation for all public school students in California.

State Sen. Nancy Skinner this week introduced Senate Bill 878, Road to Success, with sponsorship from the California School Employees Association (CSEA). It would replace the state’s existing school transportation program, which Skinner described as “outdated and severely underfunded.”

“Getting to and from school should never be a barrier to student success,” said Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley. “The research is clear: Students with school-provided transportation miss far fewer days and are more likely to graduate.”

Matthew “Shane” Dishman, president of the CSEA, noted in a news release that SB 878 would give California schools the funding needed to expand services, update school bus fleets, and provide competitive salaries to help alleviate the shortage of bus drivers.

“California’s home-to-school transportation program was originally intended to reimburse districts for school transportation, but its funding formula hasn’t allowed for increases in almost a decade while costs like fuel, labor, and maintenance have skyrocketed,” Dishman said.

According to a release from Skinner’s office, the “lack of free school transportation in California has had wide-ranging and long-term negative impacts on children, especially on students from low-income families or communities of color.”

Under SB 878, starting in the 2023-24 school year, all public school children would “be offered free transportation to and from their neighborhood school each day, provided that the state pays for all the costs of the program.”

School districts would launch or expand their own public school transportation systems funded by the state or possibly partner with public transit agencies to get students back and forth to school under the plan.