Friday, September 26, 2008

Free bus rides for teachers

School district works out arrangement with Mountain Rides

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County School District and Mountain Rides Transportation Authority have worked out an arrangement for free commuter bus rides for teachers.

"I think the timing for this is right, and we're just looking at gas prices for our teachers," said Lonnie Barber, the school district's assistant superintendent.

"One of the challenges we have is to keep and attract teachers to this valley," said Barber, commenting on high living costs in the Wood River Valley. "When we can provide these type of things, we try to do it for the teachers."

The arrangement isn't just for teachers. It's applicable to all district employees.

The service isn't free. It's costing the district $14,000 this year. The free bus rides are applicable only during the school year.

Teachers and other district employees can take advantage of the service by simply showing their school district identification badges to board one of Mountain Rides' Down Valley commuter buses, which run daily between Bellevue and Ketchum.

Barber said a teacher commuting from Ketchum to Hailey can save about $150 a month by using the service.

"And that's a lot for a teacher," he said.

"I announced this to the teachers a few weeks ago and got a great response," Barber said.

Students weren't left out of the deal either. The arrangement provides for 2,500 individual rides starting in October and running through the end of the school year. Students also simply need to show their school district identification badges to ride for free.

"If we get good utilization we'll keep doing this," Barber said.

"This partnership will not only help our staff and students, but will also have a healthy impact on our environment and community," Barber stated in a press release on the arrangement.

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