RTS will stop busing city students

ROCHESTER — Regional Transit Service officials have announced that RTS will discontinue its partnership with the Rochester City School District at the end of the school year.

The contract between the two entities expires in June, said the April 28 press release from RTS. The move follows several student-related incidents at the RTS downtown Transit Center.

"Our current model, customized to serve large volumes of students, no longer works," Bill Carpenter, RTS’ chief executive officer, said in a statement. "RTS cannot sustain the operational, safety, financial, customer service and (reputation) impacts resulting from these incidents."

District officials said RCSD has met RTS’ requirements in negotiations for a new contract, including plans to adjust school schedules that would reduce the number of student buses by more than 40 percent. The district had recently announced that it also was minimizing the number of students who had to transfer at the Transit Center and had provided school safety officers at the center. School bus providers have told the district that they could not have drivers in place for all secondary students for the new school year in the fall.

"The abrupt decision by RTS to end 37 years of service makes it exceptionally difficult for the district to provide transportation for our secondary students this summer and in the next school year," Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said in an e-mail. "We will have no other choice but to provide our students daily passes to access the public transportation system. This model is currently used in Buffalo and many other urban centers with great success."

The decision also means a loss of 144 jobs, but RTS will try to minimize layoffs through attrition and early retirement, the company stated.

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