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To Save Student MetroCards, Trim the Fat From Bloated Yellow Bus Costs

student_transit_diagram_1.jpg

New York City's MTA hearings wrap up tonight at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. If experience is any guide, we'll get to watch a parade of pols harangue the MTA Board without offering much in the way of solutions for the underlying financial problems plaguing transit.

But if our elected officials really want to stick up for their constituents, maybe one of them will mention these numbers on student transportation in New York City. As Noah reported Monday, taxpayer support for student transit passes -- which move nearly 600,000 NYC schoolkids -- pales beside the huge outlay for yellow school buses, which transport about 150,000 students. The state and city literally spend pennies per trip on student MetroCards, while the Department of Education's billion-dollar budget for yellow buses works out to about $19 for every student trip.

The long-term trend shows that school bus costs are, quite simply, out of control:

nyc_student_transpo_spending.jpgSources: NYC Department of Records, MTA

Remind me again -- where's all the waste and bloat in transportation spending? If New York City bent the curve of rising yellow bus costs just a bit, millions could be restored to fund student MetroCards. But the way things stand, we're spending more tax dollars on less efficient school buses while allowing support for student transit to wither.

Noah Kazis contributed reporting to this post.

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