A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Trouble in “Bus Paradise”

Close your eyes and picture this: you and your younger sibling are running just a bit behind to catch your bus to school.  It’s 6:38am and the bus regularly comes at 6:37am, but you both make a quick dash to the corner of the neighborhood to catch the bus just before it leaves.  You’re running, you see the bus driver, the bus driver sees you and then continues to drive off on Baltimore Avenue, riding of into the sunset without you or your sibling.

Now open your eyes.  You’d be pretty livid, right?  Well, for one student, who prefers to remain anonymous but will be referred to as Jane, this was her reality.

Jane’s incident, in particular, actually resulted in lunch duty–for her and her little brother! After chasing down the bus at a stop light, she made it her duty to get on that bus that day with her younger brother. This resulted in her standing in front of the bus so that it could not pull off without them.

Jane ended up going to administration, and the bus driver take it to her supervisor as well. The results were not what Jane was expecting.  

Because they had apparently “not been at the right bus stop” and “caused a commotion,” Jane and her brother had to clean up the cafeteria after lunch.

While Jane and her brother thought the “punishment” did not fit the “crime,” administration stood by their decision.

Although they understand that waking up early can be a challenge for some students,    administration feels that early rising is no excuse to not make it to the bus stop on time.

“Waking up early is apart of going to school in PG County,” said tenth grade administrator Ms. Hawkins “Kids in other areas of the world wake up even earlier just to have to walk to school.”

While Jane’s incident did result in a bit of a dramatic scene between her and the bus driver, eleventh grade administrator Dr. Taylor assures students that the bus drivers are there for the safe and timely transportation of PGCPS students.  

“Bus drivers must deal with kids every morning just to get them safely to school,” she said.

According to the PGCPS Transportation website, there are a variety of measures students can take to ensure bus safety and catching it on time.  These tips, provided by the county, include “visiting the arranged bus stop location” before school begins; knowing “the safest way to the exact location where the bus will stop”; and “becoming familiar with the bus driver.”

Students understand the measures that have to do with safe bus transportation. But there’s always the facts that people set aside. Where on the website does it say it is okay to pass by a student trying to get on the bus? Where does it say that students shouldn’t chase down their buses in their neighborhood to catch their bus? Where does it say that students can’t use a shortcut way to get on their bus even if it is not their correct stop?

Obviously, there’s a reason why we have specific bus stops, but bus drivers should really have mercy on our students that have their own issues at home, or wake up late every now and then.

At the end of the day, these students are kids. We have students who want to go to school to get an education that struggle every now and then to get on the bus, that is evident.

One thing we must take into consideration is that, sometimes, a bus driver may choose to pick up a student who is not standing at the right stop.

“It’s honestly unfair what she does,” said junior George Reddon, who witnessed and spoke on the incident with Jane and the bus driver. “She picks up other students at their wrong bus stop all the time. She even does it for me.”

What can students do to change this? Being able to voice out their situations, and problems with our Board of Education would be the best. Yes, giving transportation to students is a privilege, but it’s beginning to become a privilege with many consequences, and complications. Hopefully, things can change for these students in the future.