School Bus Delays
December 15, 2008
This morning I got stuck behind a school bus in Woodstock on northbound Seminary Avenue at Jackson, which was stopped for a long time with its red lights flashing. When I pulled up behind it, I could see no students boarding, but there were 4-5 women (parents?) milling around the front door of the bus.
After a minute of two the parents walked away. It was bitter cold and the wind was blowing, making the windchill factor about -10 degrees F. And still the bus did not move. I missed the class on Patience, and I honked the horn to let the driver know that cars were waiting behind the bus.
And still the bus didn't move. And the red lights continued to flash. Not being one who wanted to be the recipient of a $250 ticket for passing a stopped school bus (and the court costs and the 90-day loss of license), I waited. Then I honked again.
Finally the driver turned off the red lights, and oncoming traffic passed. And still the bus didn't move. Perhaps the driver was being passive-aggressive and making me wait longer, as retaliation for my impatience. So be it. There was no opportunity to pass, because the bus was stopped in the traffic lane, out from the curb, and right at the intersection with East Jackson Street.
I suspected that a disabled or wheelchair-bound student had boarded this bus. In a call to the D200 Transportation Department I was told that the bus must remain stopped until the disabled student's wheelchair has been secured, because the State says so. Also, that the red lights must continue to flash until the student's wheelchair has been secured.
The bus could remain stopped, as the driver is probably the only person on board to secure the student. But the red lights could be turned off and the yellow lights activated, which would allow motorists to pass the stopped bus. Apparently, the State Board of Education doesn't like that, but it makes sense to me.
Huge traffic delays also occur on Route 47, when a bus stops for a disabled student to board or get off. There is no reason in the world to halt traffic while a student in a wheelchair is assisted off the bus. The student is not going to run out in traffic and get hit by a passing car!
I shall be first to want the student and the bus driver to be safe. But common sense needs to prevail. Bus routes should be slightly adjusted to accommodate not only students, but also motorists. The bus for the student on Route 47 could pull around the corner on Grove Street. Or, at the least, shut off the red lights after the student is on the bus, and leave the yellow lights flashing for the time it takes to secure the wheelchair. If the student is leaving the bus, turn on the red lights only during the time that the student is leaving the bus.
Any thoughts on this?
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