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Should More Students Take the Bus To School?

One resident who lives across from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School had some signs up this fall that prompted a discussion about students taking the bus to school.

There's often traffic backups around the schools - and especially along Route 1A near Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School and Miles River Middle School - at opening and closing times.

Some of the traffic is from students. All 136 students spaces at the high school have been sold, according to Donna Bunk, administrative assistant to Superintendent Michael Harvey. And about 650 students ride the bus each day, according to Bunk, based on data provided by Salter Transportation, which operates the school district's buses.

That is about 57 percent of the 1,135 students that go to school on the combined campus - 430 at the middle school and 705 at the high school.

The traffic backups prompted one school neighbor to put up signs this fall that have stirred discussion. The signs read: "Tired of Sitting in Traffic? Put Your Kids on the Bus."

What do you think? Should more students take the bus to school? Are there other ways to eliminate traffic congestion near the schools? Tell us below in the comments section.

Michelle Bailey November 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM
When you have over 1,000 kids (plus staff to support learning) going to one place during the morning rush-hour on 1-A in the morning, you're bound to have traffic. The only way to cut down the congestion is to have the two schools start at different times or perhaps have school start later around 8:30 after the morning rush hour.
Beth Webber November 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM
There are many ways to cut down on congestion, including students taking the bus and not being driven to school! The "rush hour" is a direct result of this and could be eliminated with increased bus ridership and even carpooling. That said, the traffic on 1A isn't that bad and the police detail at the school is extremely helpful in moving cars along. I do wonder if the bus is free for students or not... anyone?
Beth Webber November 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
In the interest of full disclosure, my three kids carpool, take the bus AND are driven to school. I'm certainly guilty of taking up my share of road space!
deirdre pirie November 11, 2012 at 02:41 PM
i like the idea of the two schools starting at different hours. also, i do find that school busses are more of a traffic nuisance than cars as they make frequent stops that hold up traffic and seldom pull over to let the accumulated traffic pass. it would help congestion if they were instructed to do so.
Charlotte Lidrbauch November 11, 2012 at 04:11 PM
There are also over 100 Choice kids that attend the high school, and they have to be driven from their respective towns.
meg hosler November 11, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Having the schools start at different times will only create traffic twice rather than once in the morning. As for the "traffic", it is hardly bad. So it takes you an extra 5 to 10 minutes to get where you're going, big deal. If this is one of our towns big problems, then we are the luckiest people in the world.
Jennifer Flynn November 11, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I am for the buses. My original reasoning was for environmental reasons but the congestion in the morning and afternoon with all the drivers it certainly another reason. I think all of the traffic is a deterrent for walkers and bikers...it is crazy busy and seems dangerous with some many cars/buses. Kids should take the bus that is what is it is there for and it is what our taxes pay for. Arguments for driving I have heard: 1. It comes too early in the morning. (personally I think school starts too early for middle and high schoolers so I get it but it is what it is...go to be earlier and get up and get the bus) 2. My kids has to sit on the bus for 30 minutes cause they are the first stop. (wow. cool they get to chill out/relax/talk with friends/day dream for 30 minutes in our completely over scheduled world. Sounds like a gift to me) 3. it is my check in time with my child (I get this one. some of my best conversations are with my kids one-on-one in the car...but maybe they could take the bus a few days and a ride with mom or dad would be a special once a week thing) hmmmmmm I wonder if gas were $10 a gallon it would eliminate this wasteful driving....but that is for another debate:)
chris a November 11, 2012 at 10:10 PM
as to deidre"s comment,yes the busses should pull over they use to have to 30 yrs ago when i was in school and the police use to enforce it if they followed some of the busses and pulled them over they would get it.As far as another pickup time for middle schoolers the towns should have thought about that before they built the middle school.the cost would be a burden considering considering they would need to get more drivers and busses elementary school kids need the busses at 8 am.Besides it would just drag out the traffic problems all day ,and from what i read in the chronicle the schools need more money from school choice kids enrollment,So i don't see a quick fix on this problem anytime soon
Margo Killoran November 11, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Personally, I see a lot of kids getting coddled on this one; there are kids who live less than a mile from school who could walk or bike and do not. There are also a lot of kids who are eligible to take the bus and don't. Getting to school on time is an easy and incredibly safe way (particularly in Hamilton/Wenham) for kids to learn to take some responsibility for themselves, their schedule, and their role in getting an education (i.e. their "job" at the moment). As for the bus stopping more, I question whether this would be an issue as the bus has to drive the route anyway and makes most of the stops as it is, so I question whether it would really be stopping more in any significant way. There has also been very lively discussions about our bussing in regards to budget; apparently, because we are a regional school system we are required to provide transportation at a cost of something like $600,000 (don't quote me here). If we can't consider cost savings in regards to transportation because of this stipulation, it would be a far less waste of our money if people would use it.
MaryBeth Dyer November 11, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Yes, we are required to have bussing because we are a regionsl district. As for busses moving over as a rule, this would make me very nervous as my kids actually have to cross Essex St every morning to get on the bus and would thus be run over by passing cars. Two start times? More busses, more logistics, more money...
chris a November 12, 2012 at 12:31 AM
i meant pulling over to let the cars sitting behind them pass instead of trying to pass when they stop for a child. the same way they did yrs ago.and if the bus stop is on the other side of the street they should be there ahead of time
Lori November 12, 2012 at 12:44 AM
The traffic at the school is nothing compared to a morning at rush hour down 1A in North Beverly. even on the worst morning traffic at the regional might slow you down 2 mins. If I choose to drive my child so be it!
Stephen Christian November 12, 2012 at 04:31 AM
What about that kid who does not ride the bus because of the bullying that takes place on the Bus? What Hamilton/ Wenham? That could not be possible..... There are lots of bullies that ride the bus and there are many kids that are tired of being bullied with little being done. I say, get over it the traffic, make signs about something a little more crucial like the kids starving in NJ....
Rob Karpp November 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM
I loved it when I first saw these signs as I had been thinking the same thing for years. Think of the money the school system could save by eliminating some buses that no one is using anyway. Although I am sure that it is probably mandated somehow and not possible. But lets be honest here, the REAL issue here people is that we need to stop coddling our children. I know it's horrifying to think of our kids having to walk all the way to the bus stop get in that big scary bus and take the long ride to school. Ask yourself, how hard would your parents have laughed at you at the mere suggestion of a ride to school?? Full disclosure here too- My wife and I are also guilty of driving "our little Angels" to school because they didn't want to ride in the "Loser Cruiser". Hopefully more of us will wake up and let our kids take that very dangerous journey to the bus stop and for a ride on the "loser cruiser" Who knows, they may actually like it! (And I might get to work on time)
Lori November 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Couldn't agree more!
Michelle Bailey November 12, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Ask the principals, they'll tell you most bullying happens not in the class, but unstructured time, bus, lunch, recess, and hallways. Really, is it important how you get to school?
Carol A Mazzetta November 12, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Jennifer thinks school starts too early, with all the days off the kids have now how on earth can they compete in this world? Our kids can't hold a candle to the Europian kids and Japan & China are so far ahead we'll never catch up. Having a conversation with a teenager is "like" you know impossible unless they use the word "like" a dozen times! We've dumbed down our schools to the point where a D is now a passing mark.
Holly Carney November 13, 2012 at 06:44 PM
???? LOSER CRUISER ???? Really??? Why do people (especially adults!) always have to "label" a student who rides a bus to school as a "loser"??? I have been driving a school bus in Hamilton and Wenham for 26 years, and I find this very offensive. Shame on you! And why eliminate the buses? Think of the money parents could save on gas by letting their children ride on the bus!
Rob Karpp November 13, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I think you missed my point.
Rob Karpp November 14, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Maybe I wasn't clear- My frustration is that kids are NOT riding the bus. I want more kids to ride the busses that we are paying for and the parents to stop driving them....
Michelle Bailey November 17, 2012 at 05:58 PM
On Tues. night Dr. Englander, the speaker on bullying at the HWRHS, told parents one way to stop bullying on the bus is to drive your kids to school.
Don Barker November 17, 2012 at 05:59 PM
We live at the dead end of Ellis Ave across from the Buker. The traffic is ridiculous!! We can't get in or out during the morning or afternoon drop-off/pick-up for all the cars and SUVs. Students need to take the bus or walk (we did). And parents, put down the phone and pay attention while you are in the school zone!!!
Laetitia Allen Rodde November 17, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The bus is free to everyone, for now. Case in point: California, where there are no more busses! Take advantage of this service while you can, and be green, too.
David West November 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Why can't all the kids in a neighborhood walk to one meeting point to be picked up? It really bothers me that the buses have to stop at every house and pick up kids. Not sure if this is the case in Hamilton but I get stuck behind school buses frequently for miles and when I drive by I often see a parent sitting in a car at the end of the driveway with the car idling while the kids stay nice and toasty. How is this helping our kids be strong? I get stuck in the school traffic often and it's frustrating so I also wish there was a better solution.
Max Counihan November 17, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I think I'm the only student to comment on this so far, so here goes. I park in one of those 136 spots everyday, and frankly while traffic isn't pleasent, I have learned to live with it. I've carpooled with neighbors and siblings to to school for the past four years, and this year I drive home neighbors whenever they need a lift. Aside from choice kids, I live about as far away from the school a possible for a HW student (I live near 128/Gordon, approx a 12 minute commute. I leave at 7:12 every morning and with traffic am still able to make it to school with 5-10 minutes to spare. In tema of a student driving to school, it's really not that bad. Someone earlier commented that kids in a neighborhood should walk to a mutual meeting point to get picked up. While that may work for a small neighborhood/single street, for larger neighborhoods such as Asbury Grove and Parsons Hill, that really wouldn't work. The whole "put your kids on the bus" campaign that is apparently going on makes sense but is unneeded. Aside from parents who are late to work because of dropping off your kids (you should be putting your children on the bus anyway), just be patient and sit in "traffic" for an extra five minutes out of your day. We are two small towns, and HWRHS happens to be on 1A. It's practically unavoidable to not sit in traffic for an extra five mins every morning due to the schools position, I know from experience. Leave home a couple minutes earlier if need be.
Blair Spofford December 14, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Max is absolutely right!If you are driving the same route to work every day, you know that there will be "back-up" at certain points.In the morning, when I leave my house to pick up my school bus, I know that if I leave 2 minutes late, I will get behind one of "those" school buses, therefore making me late.It is within our control! As for buses pulling over each time there is a line of traffic behind us? Sure, we could do that, however, that adds time to the childrens' ride time.We try to only keep students on the bus for half an hour, maximum. Pulling over would add time to the route. I have been driving a bus in HW for 14 years. It is a GREAT job with GREAT students! I, for one, have NEVER had a problem with bullying and communicate with all parents/students to make sure that there are no problems. I may be out-of-line here by saying this but, if you see a problem with bullying on the bus, maybe you should talk to your driver. This is our job! If a driver is not paying attention, they should not be driving your children. On another note, my son attends St. John's Prep. I DO love picking him up every day, having that one-on-one time, however, I would LOVE to save on gas and time and save that one-on-one time for when he got off if there was a bus available to drop him off.
Blair Spofford December 14, 2012 at 02:58 PM
sorry...I ran out of space...........What I see? I see so many parents who are TOLD by their children that they refuse to take the bus because it is a "Loser Cruiser" (Holly...it is the children that that label this...not the parents). I say....TAKE THAT OPTION AWAY FROM YOUR CHILDREN! They take the bus, PERIOD! My 2 boys always took the bus. There wasn't another option given to them. I took the bus throughout my school years...there wasn't another option given! As for the congestion? Go and sit by each school for 10 minutes before school starts and 10 minutes after. VOILA...the congestion is gone. It is a necessary evil, but to Max' point...learn to accept it and move on. If you want to drive your child to school? You are welcome to...just be patient and understanding. It is simple. We live in a wonderful community with wonderful students (believe me...I have driven for some other schools on trips). We should all be very proud! Let's support one another in whatever decision is made.

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