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School reinforces bus pass policy

By Chris Erspamer
Published: November 2009

School officials have announced late last month that they will now begin enforcing regulations regarding student bus passes.

To ride a bus, students must either carry a bus pass or have their name on a registered school list, both of which are provided by the Newton Transportation Department for a fee of $260 per student. Waivers are given to those who apply for financial aid.

Campus aides are now boarding certain buses at least twice a week, sending away those without proper identification, says Assistant Principal Purnima Vadhera. Vadhera reported that the school’s main reason for cracking down on students without bus passes was due to overcrowding, which usually becomes even more severe during the winter.

According to Goodwin Housemaster Charles Myette, unregistered students have continuously been boarding their friends’ buses in the past few years, and the buses have become severely overcrowded as a result.

In some buses, seats that were meant to hold two people instead accommodated three and sometimes four students, prompting bus drivers to refuse to start the vehicles due to safety concerns. Bus drivers, however, do not have the authority to dismiss passengers.

“The bottom line is that students can’t be on the bus without a valid pass from transport, Myette said. “Making sure they comply with this rule is our job.

Plans for a routine checkup of the buses started last spring, but school officials initially refrained from carrying them out consistently.

This year, administration decided that a harsher crackdown was necessary, and intercom announcements warned students that anyone without a pass would be prevented from riding.

“We’ve gotten a lot of complaints from kids recently about the conditions that they have to ride in, Vadhera said. “We want to make sure these kids have a safe ride home, and they cannot be safe if they have trouble sitting down.

Although campus aides are currently only checking bus passes in the afternoon, the school is considering having aides also inspect passes in the morning.

So far, these stricter measures have gone by smoothly, although there have been cases in which students–especially underclassmen–refused to leave and had to be sent to their housemaster.

According to Vadhera, students who want to ride the bus have no reason not to obtain a bus pass.

“Bus passes are easy to obtain, and the transportation department is generous in providing financial aid, she said. “It’s just that many students don’t know that and assume that it would be more convenient to not apply and ride anyway.

Some students do not see much difference despite the school’s efforts to enforce bus policies.

Senior Rebecca Robinson, who occasionally takes the bus home, says that although her bus sometimes gets overcrowded, it has never been inspected.

“They say they’re going to check them, and then they don’t, she said.

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