Spokane Public Schools are still awaiting a federal transportation bill to be signed into law that would allow them to begin offering bus service back to students.
School district spokeswoman Michelle Stiles said the district hasn’t received a bill from the Transportation and Housing Department, which will be responsible for signing off on the program, which would take effect if it’s approved by Congress.
She said the county would need to negotiate with the federal government to begin bus service.
Spokane Public Schools is a suburb of Spokane that includes several urban school districts, including Spokane Valley School District.
The county has one of the lowest poverty rates in the state, and the average income of Spokane residents is about $42,000, according to Census data.
The city is trying to build a new bus service system that will be able to reach many students.
The district also wants to extend bus service from its own facilities to a few suburban schools in the area.
It hopes to offer bus service between the Spokane Public School and the Spokane Valley school district in the coming weeks.
Spoke to @CMDOT on their status on bus service: 1/1 — John R. Hultman (@JohnHultman) February 4, 2019Spokane Valley School Board spokeswoman Melissa Krieger said the school board hasn’t heard from the federal agency yet on how it will be funded and how long it will take to get the bill passed.
She noted that the city doesn’t have any money from the state to provide bus service in the city, but it will eventually need to get that money.
The federal Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security will provide the bus service, which Krieer said is currently operated by the U.S. Postal Service.
Spokeswoman Amy Stoddard said it will likely be one of those services that will begin operating at the end of the month.
“We’re hoping to get buses rolling very soon,” Stoddart said.
“But until then, we’re waiting for the federal funds to be approved.”
Spokane Mayor Mike O’Brien said he’s excited to see the new bus system because he’s seen a lot of school buses in the past, and he hopes to see more of them in the future.
“I think it’s an opportunity to provide an option to students to get to school and do what they need to do, and I think that’s what we need in this community,” he said.
The Spokane County Public Schools’ transportation website shows it has the most buses available, with about 150 in service, and it’s not clear how many students will be on board at a given time.
Spokeswoman Stodding said students who live in Spokane can use the school bus to reach schools from the Spokane Metroplex, the county’s public school system.
“The Spokane Public school system has bus service at every school that is serviced by a public school bus,” she said.
She added that students who need to use the bus to go to or from school, can use it for that purpose.
“There are some routes that students are required to take, and those students will take the bus for the whole day and will be reimbursed for those,” she explained.
Stodding added that if students live in the county, they’ll be able call the school to schedule a bus ride.