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School district announces transportation changes

As the first day of school approaches with ongoing remodel construction at Mercer Island High School and looming Metro cuts shortly to follow, the Mercer Island School District announced changes to bus routes for the 2014-15 school year. Updated routes for the district’s three elementary schools, middle school and high school, along with the Islander Middle School activity bus, can be found on the MISD website.

Due to construction closing the high school's bus load zone along 92nd Ave S.E. throughout the school year, Metro buses will now drop off students before school at the stop at 86th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 42nd Street. Students will be picked up after school in front of the MISD Administration building at 4160 86th Ave. S.E. The route adjustment will cause routes 891, 892, 205 and 203 to run approximately 10 minutes earlier in the morning and 10 minutes later in the afternoon, allowing students time to walk to and from the high school.

But changes to two of those routes won't last for long, as routes 203 and 205 will be among Metro's route cuts that take effect Sept. 27. Fortunately for riders, new bus route 894 will replace routes 203 and 205. Beginning Sept. 29, the 894 will serve as a sort of combination of the two eliminated routes.

Todd Kelsay, director of transportation for the Mercer Island School District, said a contract is in place for route 894, with Metro still finalizing the routing and timing. Before the route goes into effect, students will still be able to ride routes 203 and 205 until they disappear. "It's not ideal, but it's the world we live in," he said of students changing bus routes so early into the school year.

Metro route 204 will remain in service with a few additional stops to its schedule, effective Sept. 27, to cover some of those lost to the 202 and 205 route cuts. The district's yellow school buses that serve MIHS students along East Mercer Way north of SE 70th St. will follow regular schedules all year. Still, with significant changes happening at all levels, Kelsay said it was important for people to pay attention for updates to the routes posted on the school district's website. "Everybody really needs to look at the schedules and understand the impact they may be facing," he said.

Kelsay said the changing population of students, resulting from overcapacity at Mercer Island schools, will pose its own challenge. The schedules for a growing number of students have to be taken into account, leading to plenty of adjustments to be made in the waning days before the first day of school Sept. 2. But tying up route plans near the end of summer break is usually par for the course.

"Things come together at the end because [student] enrollments and placements are sorted out close to the end," he said. "We can react when students are placed in buildings, then we can look at the routes and the way they need to be adjusted, and away we go. We'll be ready."

For more information, contact Todd Kelsay at (206) 236-3337 or todd.kelsay@mercerislandschools.org.

 

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