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Long delays at school bus stop

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Buses McHenry County, Illinois

Long delays at school bus stop

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 12, 2009

A major traffic problem occurs on school days on Route 47 near Grove Street, where a Woodstock District 200 bus stops to pick up a student in a wheelchair.

Traffic must stop in both directions on Route 47, while the bus displays its flashing red lights. The bus turns from eastbound Grove onto southbound 47 and then stops at the first house to pick up the student. The bus remains stopped for 3-4 minutes while the driver or attendant lowers the ramp, assists the student into the bus and secures the wheelchair, so that the passenger can be transported safely.

I support the safety of the student and the safety of the driver and any assistant. However, I also believe that it is not necessary to impede traffic for so long at the time of the morning pick-up or the afternoon return.

I believe a solution could be developed so that traffic is not blocked in both directions for as long as it is. There is no danger that the student will enter the street, where s/he could be struck by a car. The wheelchair is rolled onto the ramp from the curb or driveway. Once the student is in the bus, the flashing red lamps could be extinguished.

For safety, the yellow lamps could remain flashing. This would allow traffic to pass in both directions.

An alternative is that the bus could load on Grove Street, about 50 feet away and completely out of the Seminary Avenue traffic.

It seems to me that Woodstock D200 Transportation, the Woodstock Police Department, IDOT, ISBE and whoever else has to have their hands in this could put on their thinking caps and figure it out.

The safety risk is greater than just to the student and the bus personnel. Police, fire and rescue vehicles often use Route 47. Would they be required to come to a stop and wait, like everyone else? If traffic is stopped for blocks in both directions, what added and unnecessary risk is there to drivers of emergency vehicles who might try to use the two-way, left turn lane as a driving lane between rows of stopped vehicles?

Might an impatient driver try to turn around just as an emergency vehicle passed? We already know that, around here, drivers are not over-cautious during the approach of a vehicle using emergency lights and/or siren. (At other times they are overly-cautious and stop when they need not to.)

There is no doubt that the bus driver is following the law by displaying the red lights while a student is boarding or exiting the bus. However, once the student is no longer "boarding or exiting", why not turn off the flashing red lights?

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