The Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization has announced a tentative agreement has been reached on a new contract between Buffalo Public Schools and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Pending approval by the Buffalo Board of Education and the NFTA Board of Commissioners, the BPTO says the contract includes "notable changes" in bus pass policy and accessibility.
"We do not have all of the details," said BPTO Co-chair Larry Scott on the organization's Facebook page. "However, since both the NFTA and BPS are preparing changes to begin the school year, we'd like to make available what we know."
Scott says the contract calls for a new scan card system that reduces the types of student bus passes from seven to three:
- Blue Pass gives access 6 a.m.-10 a.m. and 2 p.m.-7 p.m. and can be upgraded for extracurricular activities to provide access until 11 p.m. with no routing.
- Green Pass is for work study, with access 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Red Pass is restricted for major disciplinary infractions, with access 6 a.m.-10 a.m. and 2 p.m.-7 p.m. with limited routing.
Scott says passes also will be available for students to attend Community School Saturday Academies and NFTA drivers will no longer be permitted to take student passes.
"We acknowledge that this doesn’t reflect full access and questions and concerns remain," he said. "We do, however, believe that progress has been made and policy changes reflect many of the recommendations from Buffalo parents/caregivers. One issue still being explored is the opportunity to provide transportation to students who are under the 1.5 mile distance."
Scott said he expects the new contract to come before the Board of Education at its next meeting on Sept. 12.
For 28 years, city students have ridden Metro Bus under the same agreement - one without a designated end. It limits routes students can use to and from school, and creates problems for afterschool activities like sports or theater because time runs out each day on the bus passes students carry. That means students have to pay for a bus ride home.
Bus passes go to 10,500 students at city public, charter and parochial schools at an annual cost around $8 million.
WBFO's Mike Desmond contributed to this story.