Idyllwild students attending Hemet High School have to have a bus pass costing $520 annually or rely on private transportation to school but next year, that cost may be eliminated.

At its April 7 meeting, Tuesday evening, the Hemet Unified School District Board of Trustees was to consider eliminating the pass for next year. This will add seven bus routes to the current total.

The proposal came from a review of the district’s transportation program. The staff report states, “ … elimination of transportation fees will, indeed, increase participation amongst the current eligible students.”

The bus pass revenue totals about $70,000 annually and the HUSD total budget is more than $175 million. Consequently, the staff report says, “Bus pass revenue has became an insignificant amount of the overall revenue to the department,” and places “… a heavy burden on families … even a greater inconvenience for outlying families.”

During the 2014-15 school year, the board requested a proposal to eliminate bus pass fees and provide more home-to-school bussing.

Also, the staff recommended reducing the distance from a school for eligibility for bus transportation. The department will review the effect of reducing the distance and may reduce it further for school year 2016-17.

Overall, the proposal will cost the district $750,000. Transit busses cost $165,000 each; $60,000 annually is needed for the driver, maintenance, fuel and support services. But the costs will come from the revenue HUSD collects providing transportation services to other districts, such as San Jacinto and Perris.

The history of the bus pass began in the early 1980s when the California Supreme Court ruled that regular home to school transportation was not a “right” guaranteed under the state Constitution. Eventually, HUSD instituted a fee-based system in 1992 in an attempt to offset the cost of providing home-to-school transportation.