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August 22, 2019

NYC students spend $2,700 a year on express buses to get to school, state senator is pushing for discounted MetroCards for those kids

August 7, 2019

An Express Bus works its way through traffic in Times Square. (Handschuh, David)

City school kids shouldn’t have to break the bank to get to school and one Brooklyn lawmaker is asking the city to change that.

In a letter sent to the Education Department and the MTA on Tuesday, State Senator Andrew Gounardes said about 2,600 children take express buses — that are not covered by free MetroCards — to get the school each day.

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“Every student deserves a world-class education, and simply getting to and from school should be no barrier,” said Gounardes, a democrat who represents much of southern Brooklyn.

“Express buses are often the only good option for these students to get to school,” he added.

Gounardes said kids should get a discount, but did not specify how much.

In May, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to give city students living more than half a mile from their schools free MetroCards to cover train and local bus trips. But the passes don’t cover the express buses, which travel longer routes between boroughs and cost $6.75 each way.

More than 1,600 people have signed a petition started in January by Brooklyn mothers Antoinette Rowdis and Antoinetta Cutrona calling for subsidized express bus fares. Both women live in Dyker Heights and send their sons on express buses to high schools in Manhattan.

Cutrona said the petition is particularly important to families from neighborhoods with fewer train options, like Staten Island and Howard Beach and Breezy Point in Queens.

MTA officials defended the current system, arguing that local buses travel everywhere express buses do and come more frequently. The agency’s “fiscal challenges” preclude expanding the funding, a spokesman said.

An Education Department spokeswoman said the agency would review the proposal with the MTA.

Gounardes estimated students who take express buses spend $2,700 a year, which would put the annual cost of fully funding the fares at $7 million.

Cutrona said she’d settle for a discount.

“These kids have been overlooked,” she said.

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