St. Paul students no longer have to walk a mile to school (uphill both ways in three feet of snow, as your grandparents might say). As the Star Tribune reports, the St. Paul School District now offers bus service to children living within a half-mile of any of its elementary schools. Formerly, students were only eligible for bus service if they lived more than a mile away from their school, but many parents and faculty agreed that a mile is too far for many children to walk alone.

According to the Star Tribune, Superintendent Valeria Silva believes the expanded service is well-worth the estimated $150,000 in costs. Why? Aside from an increased sense of safety, bus service can be a deciding factor for parents shopping schools. If a student doesn’t qualify for bus service but is too young to walk a mile, many parents will send him or her to a neighboring school just so bus transportation is an option. School board officials note that when more children can take the bus, enrollment increases and a better sense of community is fostered. The Minneapolis School District has provided half-mile bus service for more than a decade.