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High gas prices impacting community-organized school carpools

Rising gas prices are forcing parents who rely on carpools to pay more. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne talks to parents with limited school transportation in Oceanside.

Rising gas prices are forcing some community-organized school carpools to charge families more for rides, and that is causing hardship for some families.

"I've heard of a family paying up to $400 a month for her children to be carpooled," said Nataly Sanchez, an Oceanside carpooling parent.

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Sanchez drives four teens to Cesar Chavez Middle School in Oceanside.

"I pretty much told the family give me what you can," she said. "Sometimes they give me 20 (dollars), sometimes 15. It's single moms, low-income families. And I feel bad taking from them."

In Oceanside, parents have had to organize school carpools because the district doesn’t provide bus transportation and many of the parents work early.

But the carpools have a cost.

Maria Infante used to rely on a carpooling parent to get her daughter to school.


"I was paying $50 per week, but money is already tight so we decided my daughter would take the city bus," she said in Spanish.

While the city bus is cheaper, Infante's daughter has to be up an hour earlier to get to school on time. But parents with younger children who attend different schools don't have that choice.

"The parents send the kids walking by themselves in the morning and when they're out of school because they can't afford to pay someone to give them a ride to school," Infante said.

Some schools are miles away from their homes requiring the students to cross busy intersections and freeway ramps.

Infante said bikes aren’t a safe choice either due to the morning rush hour and children being at risk of getting hit.

In a statement, Oceanside Unified School District said its current transportation options for students are in line with state requirements. The district only provides transportation for certain groups of students: those in special education, foster students or students experiencing homelessness, and designated students living on Camp Pendleton.