School buses

On our trip through America we often marvelled over the school bus system. Wherever we were, we saw school buses everywhere and we noticed how they enjoyed very special privileges over any other vehicles on the road. All traffic stops, when the school bus does. It is just so not done to overtake a school bus, no matter what the road conditions are like.

Picture taken in Mississippi, if I remember correctly. It’s a tired old bus this one.

Since coming here I’ve often wondered why they don’t use them. Except for very urban areas, the public transportation here isn’t that fantastic and even if there were a bus, you can’t send your primary school child on a public bus to school unless it stops in the actual school grounds or there are traffic wardens in place where they get off the bus. Where we live, there’s not a bus Dane can safely take to school. So like all the other parents at his school I dutifully drive him to and from school every day. Don’t get me wrong – I actually cherish the moments alone with him in the car. There are few places or occasions where you get a more free conversation with your child than in the car.

But I still think it would be wonderful with a school bus. For several reasons: The parents – it’s stressful to do the school run, there’s loads of traffic and you’re constantly worried about either being late for work in the morning or being late for pick-up in the afternoon. And there’s the cost of petrol and the wear and tear of the car – by now we’ve all learned that it’s the short trips that wear the car out and which are most expensive in petrol. Then there’s the general congestion. I don’t recall the number, but it’s an astonishing amount of cars that would not fill the roads, if school buses became generally used in this country. And not least, there’s the environment. There’s a lot of CO2 emissions saved on that account. And – for the children, there’s the not so small matter of security – it’s a lot safer to drive in a dedicated school bus with a certified school bus driver than to drive with stressed-out mum or dad. And it’s more fun too – you get to travel with all your mates.

So, as David Blunkett, the chairman of the Yellow school bus committee, said: It should be a no-brainer. But apparently the unions have complained that the children should much rather go by public transport. ‘Scuse me, but that’s the no-brainer here. If sufficient, safe and on-time public transportation was to be found, would everybody drive their kids to school? And besides, what about all the nice new members the union would get?

I’m writing about it today because it’s on the news. The above mentioned committee published their report yesterday.

Anyway, now it’s up to the politicians to figure out if we’re going to have school buses in this country. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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