UPDATED 7/6/11 10:20 a.m.

Looks like more of the same with runaway school bus costs.

The cost of transporting students to and from school has nearly doubled in the last five years, from $185,000 per day to $340,000 per day — and lack of competition among contractors certainly doesn’t help keep soaring prices in check.

The new cost works out to about $1,100 per student each year, and that doesn’t include special ed students, whose school bus transportation costs about $8,000 per student per year.

It looks like the rising costs will continue to be passed on to students.

A Hawaii State Board of Education committee voted Tuesday to increase school bus fares — for the second time in two years. If the full board approves the recommendation, beginning this fall, the cost of a one-way ride to school will rise 67 percent to $1.25, up from $0.75.

Quarterly passes would go up by $12, and annual passes by $45, to $270. The fare increases would affect about half of the 43,000 school bus riders throughout the state. Students who qualify for free lunch will continue to ride for free.

School Bus Fares (Per Student)

Current Recommended
One-way $0.75 $1.25
Quarterly Pass $60.00 $72.00
Annual Pass $225.00 $270.00

The last time fares went up was in January 2010, when they more than doubled from $0.35 one way.

The inexplicably skyrocketing school bus costs have already been identified by the Legislature as a top concern, Civil Beat reported in May. We also reported that Hawaii depends more heavily on private companies for its school bus services than any other state in the U.S. And that the 12 private companies providing the services are not competing for their contracts.

Indeed, lawmakers already cut $20 million from the Department of Education‘s transportation budget for 2013. The budget cut is designed to motivate the Department of Education to investigate why the costs are rising so fast.

This fare increase is designed to match the cost of city bus fares, which many students on Oahu have to pay to get to school if they live in areas where the department does not provide bus service, said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of school facilities and support services.

The fare increase would have the added benefit of helping close the department’s transportation budget deficit — or at least reducing the amount of general funds required to subsidize the $74 million service,1, Moore said.

Assuming approximately 5 percent of paying riders stop taking the bus because of the price increase, it would still increase revenues by about $800,000, according to Moore.

Follow Civil Beat on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for Civil Beat’s free daily newsletter.