Hawaii Department of Education officials say they would have to end school bus service on Oahu if the Legislature doesn't give them millions of dollars even beyond what the governor is seeking for school bus transportation next year.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has requested $54 million for bus transportation costs next year. But that's $17 million shy of what the department says it needs in order to continue providing student transportation at the current level next year.
If they don't get all the money, district officials say they will have to eliminate regular school bus service on Oahu, leaving 17,000 kids who now ride the bus scrambling to find other transportation.
"Some of those 17,000 kids will take the city bus," said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of school facilities and support services. "Some of those, their parents will take them. Some will find a way to carpool. Some of them conceivably will walk or ride a bicycle. And some of them — we hope very few — simply won't go."
The Hawaii Department of Education is already under pressure from the Legislature to reduce costs, not increase them. Transportation costs have skyrocketed in recent years, up from about $34 million a year in 2005 to $75 million a year in 2012.