Parents, students can voice opinions on proposed IPS transportation changes in virtual town halls

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INDIANAPOLIS — Starting Monday, Indianapolis Public Schools hosts a series of town halls to talk about new proposed changes to their transportation. 

They will discuss some students being moved from the IPS yellow buses to either ride IndyGo buses or walk to school. 

When it comes to IndyGo, the district has had a pilot program with them. For the past two years all high school students have had an unlimited IndyGo pass. 

The next proposed step is to have a select number of high school students transitioned from the yellow bus and onto IndyGo for the next fall. 

Executive Director for IPS Operations Zach Mulholland says they’ve already heard feedback from some who are not in support of this idea, which is part of the reason for the town halls. 

“Obviously as an IPS employee and an IPS parent, I completely understand and appreciate those concerns, so we want to make sure our students and families are both informed of the reasoning behind this recommendation and what it might look like in the fall for them and also hear from them some of their questions and concerns about that.” 

He says some may be anxious for the change and concerned about safety. 

“We’ve had over 150,000 rides of IPS students on IndyGo during that pilot. So almost without exception, [we] have had a really positive experience and very minor if any incidents with respect to safety. So we as a team are pretty confident that IndyGo can provide safe reliable transportation.” 

They estimate about 600 students will be transitioned to IndyGo buses. And about 2,000 will be impacted by the change in walk zones. 

The walk zones have been around since the 1990s and outline which students would be assigned yellow bus service and which were close enough to walk. 

Mulholland says they had a decline in funding from the city for crossing guards so they gave some students within walking distance bus service. 

Now they are funding more crossing guards and having more students walk in an effort that started last year due to COVID.

“Specifically last year, we shifted 13 schools and provided crossing guards at those schools to support and a number of students that were shifted off of yellow bus and designated as walkers for the current year,” said Mulholland. 

“Last year, as I don’t need to tell you or anyone, we were dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and how we could ensure students’ safety both on the bus and in the classroom. And one of those efforts really involved getting physical distancing on buses. So functionally what that meant is we needed to reduce the number of students who were on yellow buses each day.” 

Parents and students can join the virtual meetings starting Monday night at 6 for both topics. The meeting Wednesday at 6 will be just about walk zones. And the final one on Thursday at 6 is about IndyGo. 

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