The final week of the 2001-2002 school year is almost here. For just a few more days, parents and driving-age students can continue to endure the indignities of waiting in long traffic lines around some Columbia County campuses.
Those lines are still long in spite of changes to bus schedules, in spite of earlier start times for middle and high schools, in spite of several months of traffic- pattern analysis around the jam-packed Lakeside and Greenbrier campuses.
So, after all the changes and study, why is morning and afternoon traffic still snarled?
Its not because the county didnt spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new bridge to detour traffic into the Lakeside campus. And its not because of the lack of a second entrance into Greenbrier.
No, morning and afternoon traffic tie-ups persist because entirely too many parents and students insist on driving to school instead of using the taxpayer-provided public transportation system that comes right to their door: The school bus.
Yes, the school bus. The big yellow boxes, nearly 150 of them, roll every day through Columbia County neighborhoods and highways.
In spite of complaints from bus drivers about pay inequities and agitation for union membership, the countys bus system has an exemplary safety record. The rare handful of minor bus crashes are overwhelmingly the fault of private motorists. The worst crash, resulting in the death of Aleana Johnson a year ago, was an aberration; it has long since been accepted by the community as a freak accident.
If safety really isnt the issue, then why do so many cars still clog the streets around schools, perpetuating the traffic problems that so many motorists complain about?
Partly its convenience. A kid riding with mom doesnt have to walk to a bus stop, rain or shine. If mom or dad is taking junior to school, the schedule can be more flexible; the family car isnt likely to leave without them.
But all that convenience is also a symptom of cultural spoilage - indulgent parents give in to whiny kids, spoiling them with comfy rides to and from school when buses do the job just fine, and with better safety records than automobiles.
Come on, mom and dad: Spoil your kids during the summer. But come next fall, put em on the bus and stay out of the traffic.
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