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I am dismayed that despite the Port Authority deferring cuts to bus routes and schedules until September 2013, the Pittsburgh public school district has decided not to purchase Pittsburgh high school students Port Authority bus passes as it has for many years, and instead, has opted to put many high school students on yellow buses and move the start time 30 minutes earlier. These shortsighted decisions will produce multiple, reverberating negative consequences.
Given the hormonal changes resulting in a natural propensity for teens to sleep later, this earlier start time will lead to increased absenteeism. When a sleep-deprived teen misses a Port Authority bus he or she can simply take the next one and get to school. When tired students miss their yellow buses, they don't make it to school, period. The increased absences will only add to the other ill effects of the early start time, like worse academic performance, more emotional problems like depression and anxiety, and more behavior problems and substance abuse. This is not good news given the recent fall in the district's already low standardized test scores.
Finally, there is something almost perverse about the city school district spending its sparse funds on private yellow buses rather that supporting the ailing public Port Authority, which plays such a critical role in Pittsburgh's quality of life. You'd think that city and county officials, who should have saving the Port Authority near the top of their agenda, might get involved in this act involving the city shooting itself in the foot.
First Published September 5, 2012 12:00 am