The average Los Gatan’s morning to-do list consists of waking up, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and rushing out the door, attempting to bypass the morning traffic. As parents leave for their jobs, streets quickly clog with cars, creating a stalemate. Luckily, a solution to reduce the number of cars on the roads has finally arrived: a private school bus for students to ride to and from school.
The city has tossed this idea around for a couple of months and in January, the Los Gatos Saratoga Union School district released a survey to parents with students in the district. Over 8,000 emails went out to parents whose children attend schools such as Van Meter, Daves Avenue, Blossom Hill, Raymond J. Fisher, and Los Gatos High School. The survey consisted of six brief questions asking whether families would use this service. Over 1,000 individuals submitted responses only a short time after The School Bus Feasibility Study team released the survey.
Starting a bus system may seem simple, but this plan requires many moving parts. A new bus system costs money, which means the providers of the transportation need to make the price reasonable for parents. Director of Parks and Public Works Matt Morley expressed: “We envision a cost-sharing element, and we plan to make a big play for Measure B transportation funds to help subsidize the service… Measure B is a competitive program, but we’ve done a lot of work to obtain that funding.” An affordable price must be a selling point, otherwise parents will ignore the service and continue driving their children themselves.
Another important factor to parents willing to subscribe to the service is making sure the buses come to their homes. Morley also mentioned to the Mercury News that the buses will travel to certain places. “We need to fill up the buses, so we’ll be targeting the service for neighborhoods with high concentrations of school-age children.” If these buses pick up students in full areas, a substantial number of cars will stay off the road. Morley claims that each bus on the road could remove up to 36 vehicles.
Both Morley and Ying Smith, who is the Manager for Transportation and Mobility, want as many completed surveys as they can. Smith encouragingly stated, “We really want to understand the parents’ needs, so everyone’s opinion counts whether they’ll be using the service or not.” The School Bus Feasibility Study team created the survey with intention of receiving truthful opinions from parents. Smith and Morley need constructive criticism in order to proceed or stop the bus planning. If everything continues on the upward trend, Morley believes the first bus can start transporting children to their school in Jan. 2019.
(Sources: SJ Mercury News, Town of Los Gatos, LGUSD)