So back when I grew up in a more rural community, there was still a bus to pick the kids up for school. If you weren’t at the bus stop, the bus went on. If you were one of the lucky kids that lived in a loop subdivision, you could maybe catch the bus around on the return pass, but there was no guarantee. The bus yielded after picking kids up on a busy road to let traffic by, and so forth. Most runs were about 60 minutes long or so, and peppered kids here and there, with few stops grabbing more than 3 or 4 kids.
Enter the urban environment. Buses in Stamford stop at just a few stops each, and pick up gobs and gobs of kids. They have these feeder bus stops that come from offloading an entire apartment complex in one location. The big problem with this, unfortunately, is if there is a kid a quarter mile down the street walking (not running) towards the bus, the bus waits there, blocking six lanes of traffic, and causing traffic to back up through a 4-way 8-lane intersection. Best case, if all of the kids were there, if the parents aren’t being a pain and hugging their kids good-bye in sequence just before the get on the bus (doing it a minute beforehand would accelerate the process by 2 minutes), it takes about 3 minutes to load a bus at one of these stops. With kids showing up late with their parents, and still having to go through the song and dance routine to say goodbye to their parents, this process takes 6-7 minute, during which time traffic simply cannot function. It is even worse on days when it is raining, as parents drive their children to the stop, and everybody waits in their cars, blocking a lane of traffic with all of the parents waiting for the bus. I got hit with two of these circumstances a day ago, and it caused my 10-minute drive (yes, yes, I should be walking) to take over 20 minutes! There is an easy solution to this problem:
- Kids, and kids only, can be within 100 feet of the bus stop. They must stand in a pre-designated area.
- All good-byes to/from parents must be completed 5 minutes before the scheduled arrival of the bus. Children violating this protocol will first receive a warning, and then a week-long revocation of their bus privileges. After the first revocation of rights, warnings are no longer issued. Parents that violate this protocol are required to stay in a locked holding bin prior to releasing their children at the stop. The departure of the bus will automatically unlock said holding pen.
- If the kids have a hard time with this after the first few days, it’s time for them to learn the lesson that mommy and daddy will not always be there for them. I respect that it is not easy going to school the first few times on a bus, and make allowances for this. Needy children and parents are exempted from the above rules for the first week of bus utilization.
- If the kids are not in the designated pick-up area when the bus arrives, they have to walk/take a cab/hitch-hike/have their parents take them to school. Since their parents have all the time in the world to sit there and coddle them out of their Land Rovers and BMW’s, or to walk with them leisurely from the apartment building long after the bus has arrived, it should not be difficult for them to make a 2-mile drive or arrange their cab fare. Students should be confined to circular areas delimited by red paint, and if said students are not in the circle when the bus is arrived, the door is slammed forcefully in their face.
- Buses should be required to park not in the middle of a busy throughway, but in an area that does not disrupt traffic. Considering they only have to make three or four stops, they should be able to pull into the parking lot for an apartment complex, say, and do all of their dirty work there. Buses may cheat and use their flashing lights to sneak into traffic thereafter; it’s only fair.
I realize this sounds ridiculous and rather harsh. But, let’s be reasonable. This sort of favor that the bus drives give the kids every day is anything but. They are teaching children that they can show up late and still get what they want in life, that promptness has no purpose, and standing on your own is overrated. They teach children that blocking an interstate by turning on their emergency blinkers and double parking is going to be appropriate. That they can just pull up on a street next to a store and block traffic while they pick up their order. This is why corporate America is rotting from the inside — because we are raising children with the wrong standards from the start. And before you come out and attack me as being unreasonable, I had to stand in the rain to wait for my bus, I missed the bus and had to beg my parents to take me to school, or to make the 2-mile walk myself as a small child. I’ve had to stand out in blizzard conditions to wait for the bus, and to have to run out in the street like a maniac waving my arms when the driver did not see me because I was encased in a snowdrift. I’ve had to wait at a bus stop with a drug dealer who threatened to kill me, and to have to get off at a stop where there were no parents, and a kid was about to beat me up. My bus driver was an alcoholic and she waited for nobody. These exercises build character; preparing kids for the harsh reality of the world they are entering.