SchoolBusThe Newton School Dept reverted back to the previous rule that all elementary school children that live more than a mile away from school will now ride the school bus for free.  For the last four years it was only children that lived more than two miles away that rode for free.

I’ve always felt strongly that if the school department does not recommend children walk a given distance to school than it should be the dept’s responsibility to provide transportation.  Yet during these last four years of bus fees no one in the schools were recommending that elementary schools children should be walking 2-4 miles day round-trip to school.  So I’m particularly delighted with the rule change on that basis.

My daughter moved on to middle school this year but I talked to a local elementary school parent this evening.  She said that this morning on the elementary school buses in Upper Falls there was a very big jump in the ridership.  All sorts of parents who ferried their kids to school last year are putting them on the bus this year.  Aside from the equity issue this is a win-win-win outcome if it’s a lasting change.  It means that we just eliminated a lot of cars on city streets for that commute.  We’ve improved the safety and general environment around the schools with fewer cars doing dropoffs and pickups.  Many of kids are now getting a bit exercise before and after school with the short walks between their houses and the school bus stop.

If you live in that 1 – 2 mile range from an elementary school, did you see a significant change this morning?  If you dropped your kid at school, did you notice any change in the amount of traffic?

Congrats to the School Committee for voting for this overdue, common sense rule change.

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