KELLER -- Unsure of how many families will pay for what has been a free ride, Keller school district officials and Durham Transportation plan to offer a pilot pay-to-ride bus service for the fall semester.
For most students, the cost of a semester's worth of bus rides will be $185. If families have more than one bus rider, they will pay $135 for each additional child. Students eligible for free and reduced lunches will be charged $100 per semester.
"We really don't know how many will pay," Deputy Superintendent Mark Youngs said.
Trustees agreed to spend about $500,000 to offset reduced prices for low-income students and families with multiple riders.
Regular bus transportation was eliminated, saving $2 million, after district voters rejected the board's request to raise the property tax rate last month.
Dana Chandler, Durham's general manager for the district, said the company plans to offer 72 routes to start the year, but will reduce the number if demand is low. Keller had 82 regular transportation routes last year. Forty others will continue to serve special-education students as mandated by law.
Bus stops will change and be farther apart, Chandler said. Buses will be equipped with radio frequency identification readers, and riders will have a card or tag that will record when they get on and off and verify payment.
Chandler said that for the first semester, total payments would be needed in advance.
Launi Walker of North Richland Hills, who has children at three Keller schools, said she would probably not spend $900 a year for her children to keep riding buses. Instead, she will have to spend several hours a day taking her kids to and from school.
Superintendent James Veitenheimer said that after the election, officials thought the district would have no regular bus service at all.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231