UPDATED: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 10:19pm
Waco, Texas — Waco ISD and Waco Transit System are currently in negotiations to offer their student ride services for the upcoming school year.
For this school year, the district paid $4,500 to Waco Transit to allow students to utilize the service for free, according to John Hendrickson, General Manager of Waco Transit System. Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, about 18,000 students have used the Waco Transit buses at one point or another. Waco Transit says the "ridership is greater than what was initially anticipated". And, Waco Transit expects the number of riders to increase to between 25,000 and 32,000 riders next year. Because of that increase, Waco Transit says the minimal charge they can offer the district is $15,000 for services for the school year.
Hendrickson says the free ride system is popular amongst students because traditional school buses don't meet all of the students' needs to get to various activities. He says a lot of students use the system because it's convenient. In the future, he says the ride system is "developing a culture" where new high school students will hear about the system and be encouraged to participate.
Waco ISD says the program is crucial to encourage student attendance in school to increase student graduation rates and overall success in school.
Negotiations are expected to continue, and Waco Transit says they're supportive of keeping the service going.