By: Melia Botticelli and Lainey Hynes
The announcement of later start times for Howard County public schools came with problems relating to the already problematic bus shortage. This led Howard County to increase the maximum distance students live from their school to be provided with a bus, a change that will impact thousands of students in the upcoming school year.
The bus shortage throughout the country has led to many problems for schools when it comes to transportation for students, and Howard County’s solution to this dilemma is to limit the number of students offered buses as transportation to school. The limits have changed for middle and high school, with high school lines increasing from one and a half miles to two, and middle school lines increasing from one mile to one and a half miles away from school. Howard County Elementary schools are unaffected by this decision, sticking with the limit of one mile away from school.
Next school year, countless students who have come to rely on school buses will have to find another form of transportation to school, whether it be by driving, carpooling, or even walking.
“If I were to walk it would take easily 40 minutes with shortcuts, if not longer,” stated Mt. Hebron junior, Alex Kane, who lives just a few hundred feet more than a mile and a half away from Mt. Hebron.
Kane takes the bus to school this year, but next year, he won’t have that option anymore. A two-mile walk may not seem too far to some, but those who have to walk it may think differently.
“My walk to school is one mile and takes twenty-five minutes. It takes a lot of time and my backpack is heavy, it’s sometimes painful to carry for the whole mile. I have back issues from carrying my backpack so far,” stated Mt. Hebron junior Margot Holly.
“I feel like a twenty-five-minute walk is far enough, and people who walk a lot longer will have to take even more time to get to and from school. People might have activities or jobs after school that are unfairly affected by the change,” she continued.
Holly bikes home from school every day, no matter the weather.
“When it’s very windy or rainy, I can’t even open my eyes when I’m biking. It’s exhausting and feels unsafe. I also have to bike on 99, and there’s no shoulder, so I have to be really careful of cars on the road before my neighborhood. It makes me worry about people who would have to go even farther,” Holly stated.
The new bus lines may solve a few problems, but in anticipation of a long journey to school every day, not everyone agrees with the decision.
“I think it’s not a good solution because it’s just messing up the students. More of them have to wake up early or wake up their parents to drive them. Some students like freshmen or upperclassmen who can’t drive would be stuck walking nearly an hour to school,” stated Kane.
“There has to be a way for Howard County to pay bus drivers enough for them to want to keep working. This doesn’t seem like the smartest solution,” Kane said, commenting on the shortage of bus drivers lost to low wages.
The new bus lines may only last until the issues with buses recede, but only time will tell. For now, students will have to adapt to this change, and do their best to get to school on time, even without a bus.
Categories: Local News, News