Thursday, April 15, 2010

WMATA service cuts could affect DCPS students

By: Jake Schindler

According to Washington Post education columnist Bill Turque, several student-only bus routes that serve DCPS turned up on a list of possible WMATA service cuts. On Friday, he wrote about the issue on his D.C. Schools Insider blog:

“D.C. public schools do not have yellow school buses that take students to regular school programs, but WMATA serves some schools with special bus lines that are for students only. On the list of possible route cuts are the buses that serve Watkins Elementary and Peabody Elementary; Deal Middle and Sousa Middle; Anacostia High, Eastern High, McKinley High, Spingarn High and Wilson High; and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.”

Of the schools listed, two (Sousa and Anacostia) are in Wards 7 and 8. In addition, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is just a few blocks from Georgetown, and serves students from all over the District. Transportation is an issue of great importance for DCPS families, not only because of the lack of school buses, but because students in D.C. are not restricted to attending schools in a specific ward or neighborhood, as is the case in many other cities. Parents can send their children to any school in the District, but a lack of reliable transportation may limit their options.

It’s easy to see how this could have a disproportionate effect on the underserved communities of the 7th and 8th Wards. Without public transit, parents who lack the time or resources to drive their children across the District each morning would have few alternatives to their neighborhood public school, regardless of its quality.

Fortunately, WMATA is saying that the school routes are not in danger, and that even if they were to be cut, they would be replaced by alternate bus or rail routes. This is reassuring news. But fewer service cuts for cash-strapped Metro could mean even more fare hikes on top of those introduced earlier this year. Either way, it could soon become more difficult for a lot of D.C. students to get to school.

Bill Turque’s article can be found at:

For more on Metro’s budget woes: