Hoover High School Vice-Principal Andy Trakas knows the cost of busing cutbacks at the school.
"From my memory, we've had six to eight kids over the last 10 years that have been hit by cars," he said.
Those sad statistics seem unavoidable in a dense urban environment like City Heights, where the streets hold many threats to young pedestrians. Trakas believes that the situation is worse because of a lack of signs on El Cajon Boulevard in front of the high school.
"There is not one thing that [city officials] have put in the road that will tell people going 60 or 70 miles per hour coming up Fairmount, that hook that left on El Cajon Boulevard that 'There is a school coming up, slow down,' " he said. "There's not one sign.
"There's not one blinker – there is nothing."
As part of Mid-City CAN's Improving Transportation in City Heights team's efforts, students may get some help dealing with the dangers of City Heights streets. Several elected officials and candidates – including San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, District 9 City Councilmember Marti Emerald and School Board Trustee Richard Barrera – came to one of the group's meetings on March 16 at Metro Villa Apartments and signed a card reading, "I pledge to support youth in City Heights by providing a free bus pass."
Trakas has been working at the school for 16 years and believes that bus passes for students would be a huge help.
"We are firm believers that look, if a kid can get on a bus, that kid is going to avoid so many different instances where he has put himself at risk and he is going to feel more confident in developing a behavioral routine of getting to school," Trakas said. "Because all of that unknown stuff, if a kid is worried about gangs; if a young lady is worried about if a predator is out there, etc., etc., that equation is now taken out – not entirely, because who knows what they might bump into on the bus, but, for the most part, 90 percent is."
As next steps after the transportation meeting, Councilmember Emerald pledged to pressure the public transportation boards she is a member of to act.
"I want you all to know as the mayor's representative on the Metropolitan Transit Board of the Metropolitan Transit System – I will be pushing [them] to offer money up," she said. "Public transit is for the public."
Trustee Barrera said that student transportation is something that has been an ongoing priority for the board, but that now the effort has more political support.
"I am going to move a resolution at the school district to do our part to create free bus passes," he said.
The mayor said that for a city the size of San Diego, it wasn't about the money but creating a better future.
"Our budget is $3 billion, in the city of San Diego – $3 billion – if we can't find couple hundred-thousand dollars for children to get to school, then we are not really a city worthy of that name," he said. "It's not the budgetary amount – it's the will to make sure that we invest in our children."