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Bus Driver Kicks Off Preschoolers Who Didn't Pay!

(AP) BASALT, Colo. No fare!

A driver for a popular bus service refused to take 13 preschoolers who she said did not pay to board.

Usually, children 5 and under ride free, making the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses popular with preschools taking summer and spring outings.

Last summer, partly to limit buses from being overtaken by preschoolers during the busy rush hour, the RFTA began requiring them to pay a discounted rate for rides if they were in groups of more than 10, Chief Executive Dan Blankenship said.

On March 20, the driver refused to take the children and their three teachers to their destination unless they paid their fares. The driver then asked a sheriff's deputy to kick them off, authorities said.

The deputy asked the kids to leave but gave them stickers to make them feel better.

The driver was following policy but could have handled it differently, Blankenship said.

RFTA sent another bus to take the kids. RFTA apologized publicly and to the children's parents.

Blankenship said the RFTA is happy to carry preschoolers, who may one day ride the bus as adults and do their part to decrease traffic and pollution in Basalt, an environmentally conscious mountain town northwest of Aspen.

"We don't like to do things like shooting ourselves in the foot if we can avoid it," Blankenship said.

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