Nothing says “middle school” more than a bus packed with rowdy kids. When the children create more ruckus than normal, however, repercussions ensue. Such is the case at Burlingame Intermediate School (BIS), which has a private bus agreement with the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans). This year, SamTrans decided to send fewer buses to BIS after school.
“They were only bringing two buses instead of three, so many of the kids had to walk four blocks to get to a public bus,” BIS seventh-grader Anisa Newman-Silva said.
The two small buses barely fit half of the kids who relied on them to get home. Students took the El Camino SamTrans bus instead, which is in no way associated with BIS.
“This was concerning to many in the BIS community, including parents, teachers, staff and administrators,” said Dean of Students Dave Moore.
Another challenge was BIS’s ticket system. As tickets to board the bus became more elusive, students would run and shove one another to be the first to get one. The system favored sixth graders, so seventh and eighth graders with tickets were few and far between.
“Many people make bad decisions on the buses, and the bus drivers tell them to stop, but they won’t,” seventh-grader Mikayla Garcia said when asked why she thought SamTrans did not want to bring three buses.
According to Dan Lieberman, Public Affairs Specialist for SamTrans, the company sent only two buses for financial and ecological reasons. The BIS bus route was not the only one affected by this choice.
Students such as seventh-graders Finn Lorian and Santiago Tarango created petitions to bring back the third bus. Lorian received 130 out of her 500 needed signatures before BIS sent out an email that solved the main problem. Thanks to a collaborative effort between the school administration, SamTrans and the community, two buses still pick the middle schoolers up, but they are now stretch buses. This has stopped most of the children from walking to El Camino everyday.
Even so, the root problem has not been eliminated. As long as students are still fighting to get bus tickets and “making jokes that people don’t like and getting physical” on the bus, Newman-Silva believes the after-school tension will continue.
“Since there are no immediate changes in the kids’ behavior, [SamTrans] is probably not going to want to bring more buses and might stop bringing a stretch bus eventually,” Newman-Silva said.