Thanks for sending me an email letting me know that you are having kids eat free days. I have marked my calendar and made a reservation to go to Olive Garden on that night.
Every day for the last 6 years it is the same routine. Leave the house at 6:25a.m., go through 27 stoplights and drive 26 miles through the city to work. Being trapped in the car gives me plenty of time to observe things. Some good and some bad.
Making this drive for the last 6 years, I have had to deal with an occasional school bus and can usually adjust my schedule to accommodate, but in the last year I am noticing a growing trend and a serious disregard for motorists by the Orange County Public School System buses. Instead of making buses pull into apartment complexes where they board up to 40 kids or moving bus stops off of a main road they instead chose to effectively shut down 4 lane highways for up to 12 minutes. I know what you are thinking. 12 minutes. Really. Well yes. Not all at once but it might as well have been.
On this particular morning, the third this week that I got stopped by this bus, I decided to time the stop. This stop was 8 minutes long, followed immediately by another bus going the opposite direction stopping me again for almost 5 minutes! Granted the first bus driver had to get out of the bus and load a wheelchair but is it really necessary to shut down an entire 4 lane highway? I figured surely both directions of traffic do not need to stop since no one would be crossing a 4 lane highway to board the bus. Well I checked into the law, and the way the law reads is that unless there is an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, a raised median, or a physical barrier then traffic both ways must stop Interested parties can refer to Florida Statutes (FS) sections 316.172, 318.18, 318.19 for the specific language in the law.
After stewing for a bit, I decided a call to superintendent Ron Blocker’s office was in order. I called and was greeted by his assistant who informed me that I need to speak to someone in transportation named Linda. So I called Linda and explained my displeasure with their policies and asked if it was really appropriate to shut down 4 lanes of traffic for 8 minutes and inconvenience a couple hundred motorists when they could just as easily have pulled the bus off the road or moved the bus stop around the corner. She gave a non-answer and spouted off what sounded like a line written by a lawyer about safety being their number one priority. I said that is great but what about the couple of hundred motorist who are inconvenienced and most likely late to work or appointments because of this poorly thought out policy. This time she told me that I need to speak to Cindy, their transportation routing / scheduling coordinator. Conveniently she was not available. I tried calling back several times but still have not been able to contact her. Something tells me that if I do ever get a hold of Cindy that nothing is going to change.
I think what is needed is a state law forcing schools to do the right thing and move the buses off the highways and put a limit on how long they can stop traffic. Perhaps even retro-fitting buses with new stop signs that help motorists know if they have to stop in the opposite direction. Hello. Chris Dorworth or David Simmons are you listening? Can you get on this ASAP! With gas at $4 a gallon and rising there is no need to have hundreds of cars idling while waiting to load a school bus.