By Adam Rohrer –
There are signs that more students may be turning to the old reliable school bus for transportation as rising gas prices take a bite out of their budget.
“You wait for years to be able to drive but now that I can I cant even afford to drive to school” said Ben Nogueras
Requests for parking passes are lower this year than in several of the previous years and ridership on buses is up as the district struggles to reduce its cost of transportation.
“In a poor economy, gas prices are higher which restricts my spending as a consumer,” said C.J. Capwell, a junior at Penn Manor.
There are symptoms of our weakened economy all around but for many new drivers one of the heaviest burdens is just getting from point A to point B. In Lancaster County the average price for gas is $3.50 a gallon.
In the year of 2009-2010 parking pass sales numbered 372, in 2010-2011 there was a slight drop to 362, this year however the sales have dropped significantly down to 262.
If those hundred additional students need public transportation, buses will become increasingly crowded as the district’s budget cuts dropped the number of buses from 77 to 75 this year.
“I’m supposed to cut as much as I can” said Sue Kelshaw, the transportation director for Penn Manor.
Shaw cut $175,000 from her annual budget this year. One big change was that kindergarten students are only driven one way for their half-day program and parents must take them the other trip.
Kelshaw said she already cut activity buses that shuttle students around after school and shortened bus routes so that some buses don’t go as far into some developments as they did in other years.
A long-time bus driver for Penn Manor, Bernadette Newcomer, agreed that buses are more full this year.When Newcomer first started she said many students would drive themselves but this year they don’t.
“Its been an ongoing thing with gas prices rising,” said Newcomer.