The Dance of the (23) Buses

Map of Amherst with 23 buses

23 buses running between the Strong Street 2nd – 6th grade campus and the southern K-1 school at Crocker Farm. Pleasant Street is the most direct route between the two sites.

The District has stated that one fleet of 23 buses will serve all elementary school students at both schools. This represents an additional 4 buses to the current fleet to make it even possible to transport about 700 kids away from their geographically nearest school everyday. Here is what the morning and afternoon commutes would look like for our kids.

Morning Pick-Up

For pick-up in the morning, a bus picks up all the kids in a neighborhood/area, then travels to one school to drop off one set of kids (2-6 grade or P-1), then travels through downtown to the other school to drop off the other set of kids (P-1 or 2-6).

Since some kids (presumably from the north end of town) will arrive at the Wildwood campus first and others (presumably from the south end of town) will arrive at the Crocker Farm campus first, there will be a bunch of kids waiting around at each school for the rest of the student body to arrive before school can begin. What will they be doing during this time? What staff members will be responsible for coming in early to supervise them? Does this mean that school will be starting later than it does currently or that pick-up from homes will start earlier? What will be the total travel time for the kids who are one of the first to be picked up from home and who get dropped off at the second school?

Afternoon Drop-Off

Afternoon dismissal could happen in two possible ways.

The first possibility is for a set of kids and buses to queue up at both schools. Since no more than 8 buses can line up at Crocker Farm’s loop currently, that means that 15 buses will queue at the Wildwood campus. However, all 15 buses can’t fit in the bus loop in single file so they would have to park side-by-side. That means that kids would have to walk in-between parked buses to board.

Remember also that there is another set of kids still waiting at each school. What will this set of kids be doing while they wait for the buses at the other school to board the first set of kids, drive though downtown to get to their school, then queue up to receive them? Who will be supervising them?

The second possibility is for all 23 buses to queue at one school, presumably the Wildwood campus where they would have to park side-by-side in the bus loop. All the students from this school would board all the buses which would then travel en masse though downtown to the Crocker Farm campus, queue in batches of 7-8 buses, load all the students from there, then disperse throughout town to deliver them home. This would require staggered dismissal times between the two elementary schools.  It will also involve backtracking — all kids will go north to south, and a lot of them will go back north again to go home with their younger siblings and neighbors.  What would the total travel time be for these kids?

Both of these scenarios are wasteful (of time, money, and fuel) and environmentally unfriendly, and could be unsafe (particularly if kids have to walk in-between vehicles to board and/or are already at the bus loop while buses are entering and exiting).

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Transportation – a logistical issue with enormous class implications | Save Amherst's Small Schools
  2. Pingback: The Dance of the 23 Buses (updated) | Save Amherst's Small Schools

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