RCAS Superintendent, Rapid Transit on board with mayor's free public transportation proposal

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The superintendent of Rapid City Area Schools and the Rapid Transit manager are both on board with Mayor Steve Allender's proposal to make a change in the Rapid Transit System.

Allender has proposed amending the RapidRide Transit rates to be free for students in Rapid City.
He says the city has a low graduation rate and low attendance rate and believes this proposal would either provide students better access to school or eliminate one more excuse for why students aren't making it to their seats.

Allender says, "This public transportation change is one thing that I consider to be low hanging fruit, an easy, relatively inexpensive change to an existing system, which will give better access to people who need it."

Allender adds that he's noticed a correlation between bad weather and school attendance.
And Dr. Lori Simon, the new superintendent of Rapid City Area Schools agrees, saying chronic absenteeism in the winter is a big problem in Rapid City.

Simon says, "They mayor's proposal, I think, is a great example of how the city and district can partner to improve not only attendance, but outcomes for our students, and I really do believe that improving attendance is going to be, needs to be, a community-wide effort."

Rapid Transit System Manager Rich Sagen says currently students purchase monthly passes which generates revenue for RapidRide in the amount of about $32,000.
He says the reduction in revenue would be partially offset with federal funds, resulting in about a $16,000 net loss. The rest would be made up with local tax dollars.
But Sagen says that's a cheap investment for the students of our community.