District 51 goes online with applications for paid bus ridership

An online application will be offered for the first time this year for parents who want their kids to ride a bus to District 51 schools for a fee.

Riding a school bus is free for elementary students who live two or more miles from school and middle or high school students who live three or more miles from school, as measured by walking route distance. If seats are left on a bus route after eligible students are served, other students who live closer to school can apply for a spot on the bus for $10 a month.

The contract rider application for students within walking boundaries has been offered in years past but became a more well-known option last fall, when walking boundaries were pushed back a mile to help the district save an estimated $630,000 on its bus contract agreement with First Student.

District 51 Safety and Transportation Director Tim Leon said the fund to pay First Student for busing services has not been restored to 2011-12 levels this year and he anticipates no routes will change. He added he does not expect the walking boundaries to change again anytime soon, although he said the district will consider the possibility at a later date.

“We can’t keep going back and forth every year,” Leon said.

Parents can apply for a $10-a-month bus seat at d51schools.org/parents/transportation.cfm or print a form at the site and mail it to First Student, 320 N. 24th Court, Grand Junction 81501. All payments will be handled by First Student as well.

Applications will be time- stamped and approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Unpaid riders who live outside walking boundaries will be given priority over paid riders in gaining a spot on the bus and paid riders can lose their slot if a new student moves into the busing area. Registration forms for unpaid riders are being printed now.

Leon said he hopes to open paid ridership within the first three or four weeks of school. The district has to count how many riders take the bus on a regular basis before offering paid seats to other students.

Community stops will be offered for paid riders, who can line up for the bus at a location near the busing boundaries that is on the bus route but may or may not be close to the student’s home. Community stops were offered last year as well.

Parents of paid or unpaid riders can view bus routes, stops, pick-up and drop-off times at d51schools.org starting July 25.


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I live on the Redlands and have grandchildren attending Broadway Elementary.  During the week I drive past Wingate School to pick them up from school for Little League and karate class.

There were 8 buses lined up to pick up students at the end of the school day. Because of the boundary rules I do not ever remember seeing one of those 8 buses more than half full of students.

I even saw 3 students being dropped off a half mile from school on South Camp road every day.

No matter the mileage ruling all those buses still had to take students to the farthest dropoff point they always did. Is that really a transportation issue for those who live within the 2 mile limit?  Buses still go right past the dropoff points.

Collection points could be set up to pick up groups of students within the mileage boundaries. 

Does the district really know how many students were riding the buses last year?

Does the public know how much the district pays First Student services?

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