© 2019 Cox Media Group.
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Starting Monday, more than a dozen schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district will require their ninth to 12th grade students to use Port Authority buses to get to and from classes.PPS announced the move Wednesday to "improve bus transportation.” Officials said that ending yellow bus service at two dozen schools, including SciTech, "ensures enough buses to provide elementary-aged students adequate transportation."Some parents fear the change will put their children in harm's way because of the recent teen violence downtown near the Wood Street T Station. In the latest incident, a 17-year-old was shot and wounded outside of the T station. A 16-year-old PPS student is charged in connection with the shooting.Thursday afternoon, Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay, Mayor Bill Peduto and Superintendent Anthony Hamlet met in response to the string of teen violence.Officials agree that one of the keys to eliminating the violence is to limit the number of youth that come into that area, but the shortage of bus drivers may be making the situation worse. Because of the transportation change, even more students will be around the Wood Street T-Station.The school bus change was planned before Tuesday’s shooting. Hamlet said one possible way to reduce the number of students in that area might be to reroute buses."We are constantly reevaluating what's going on (and) having a conversation with the Port Authority to see if we can get some additional connecting buses to move kids from out of downtown," Hamlet said.Hamlet said he had no choice to make the bus change because a driver shortage led to some elementary school students on buses for nearly two hours. To eliminate that, he re-collected buses, and now an additional 400 high school students will use PAT buses.Peduto said, "I feel for families that are trying to get kids home safely and directly from school and for people downtown that feel this may lend itself to the potential future incidents."The mayor said he believes the district needs to find more school bus drivers."We can work with the school board, work with the superintendent, and find the drivers that are needed so that kids don't have to go downtown," Peduto said. "It's not just people downtown that are concerned about this; it's the parents. It's not the most ideal way of getting a kid from school to home."Thursday afternoon, Port Authority officials said they are waiting for more information from the school district to better understand the request and identify possible solutions. An official from PAT said, "“We have discussed this issue with Pittsburgh Public Schools and other local officials. We’re currently waiting to receive information from the district that would help us better understand its service request and identify possible solutions.”Approximately 4,000 Pittsburgh school students are now using PAT transportation.