Last month, I focused on the hazardous traffic conditions at our schools — and the extraordinary efforts of Irvine Crossing Guards to keep kids safe amid the morning and afternoon chaos of cars, pedestrians and bicyclists converging on school sites.
I recently visited the IUSD website to check out the School District’s messaging on transportation. Imagine my surprise when the first image that popped up was a photo of a large yellow school bus with exiting children. So why was I surprised? Because IUSD does not provide school bus service to the general population.
Like many school districts, IUSD long ago discontinued school bus transportation for most students — shifting the cost and responsibility for transporting children back onto parents. At the same time, the School District changed its policy of building small neighborhood schools — which are easy to walk to — and instead began building mega-schools such as Stonegate Elementary with more than 1,100 students and Woodbury Elementary with more than 1,000 students. Mega-schools mean more students, more cars, more danger — all of this concentrated in a 20-minute crush each morning that adds to the snarled traffic throughout the City.
The City of Irvine is in the midst of a “traffic management” study — trying to figure out how to deal with the traffic mess that overdevelopment has created. Part of the study includes the solicitation of opinions and ideas offered by Irvine residents.
Well, here’s an idea: Bring back the school buses! School buses are safe — a lot safer than cars. They are also reliable and efficient. In fact, just one school bus can displace dozens of cars at a school site and eliminate home-to-school trips, especially in the midst of the morning rush.
Now that school finances are healthy once again (thanks, in part, to millions of dollars in City support for Irvine’s public schools), this seems like the perfect time for City and School District officials to get together and recreate a school-bus transportation system that is worthy of our master-planned City.