Wednesday, January 11, 2012

School Bus Stops

When I was a kid, I would watch TV shows in which the school bus picks up the main characters right at their house in the morning, and then drops them off right at their house in the afternoon. I would think, "That's not how it works! The school bus doesn't come by MY house. I have to walk a third of a mile (which when you're little is quite a distance) to a predefined bus stop. No fair!" I figured that for the purposes of a TV show, it was more convenient and/or a better plot device for Otto to stop right at 742 Evergreen Terrace, rather than for Bart and Lisa to have to walk down the street a little ways to meet the bus. School buses don't actually stop by individual houses to pick up individual children, right? I'm not so sure. On my after work bike rides around the neighborhood, occasionally I'll encounter a school bus or two. And rather than stop at major centralized intersections like my old elementary school bus 164* used to, where the bus would only stop a handful of times with each stop handling 5 to 15 children, these buses would drive around the neighborhood and stop at individual houses, just like in The Simpsons and in most other TV shows featuring children. Not every kid gets dropped off right at his or her front door (particularly if they live on a dead-end street), but they're all pretty close. Here in Durham, most bus stops only handle one or two children, and that's it.

(I only rode the bus after school, and not every day, but I still remember the number. On a related note, riding the bus is kind of uncool once you reach middle school, and is very uncool once you reach high school.)

Of course, now that I'm an adult, I have a completely different opinion on this. Do we not trust our children to walk even a third of a mile alone anymore? That has to be why buses around here do this, right? Safety? Or does Durham just do it differently (and less efficiently) than Jacksonville? (Does Jacksonville still do things the same way that they used to, even?)

I hope safety isn't the sole reason Durham school buses make all of these extra stops. We live about three-fourths of a mile from the elementary school Marla will likely attend in a few years, and you know, it would be really nice if Marla could walk there on her own.

Speaking of neighborhood safety, somebody found a dead body in our neighborhood lake last month. Yay Parkwood!


Maria Eswine said...

In Raleigh where I taught, the buses stop at bus stops - not the houses. But there were lots of stops in my neighborhood, so the kids didn't have to go too far.
Also, K and 1st grade students have to be picked up by an adult at those bus stops. They're not alowed to walk home alone. Also "walkers" were escorted and didn't walk alone either. :-)

Spartangoogle said...

In Jacksonville the procedure is the same as when you were in elementary school. This year to save $$$ they no longer provide transportion to most of the magnet middle and senior highs. So parents have to drive their kids, or if old enough the kids drive themselves, or the parents have the option to contract with a bus company directly and pay $1000 per year. Also the JTA has some plan for bus passes. You should see the middle school kids waiting at LaVilla downtown for the city bus. Now that's unsafe!