The Wheels On The Bus…

First Selectman Jim Marpe and the Board of Education have created a joint Bus Parking Task Force.

Eight high-powered members will explore a variety of school bus parking arrangements. They’ll see if a public or privately owned site can bring down the cost of parking those 8 trillion Dattco buses.

Let’s hope they succeed. The current spot — behind the gas station opposite Playhouse Square — creates a traffic nightmare. (And I’d say that even if I didn’t live in the condos across the street.)

But if the task force really wants to solve a transportation problem, how about attacking the most pressing school bus issue in town:

The fact that every kid in town has a personal bus stop. Even if he or she lives 3 !@#$%^& feet away from another one.

Pretty soon, each kid will get his or her own personal bus.

Pretty soon, each kid will get his or her own personal bus.


26 responses to “The Wheels On The Bus…

  1. Perhaps if people in Westport drove the speed limit and stopped talking/texting while driving, it would be safer to have our children walk on the streets without sidewalks to centrally located bus stops. Until then, I appreciate the choice to keep my and my neighbors’ children safe.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Sue! I have such a distrust of the drivers on our busy thoroughfare, I haven’t even let my kids take the bus in years – too dangerous to wait on the street for a giant school bus that becomes a stressful social situation every morning. Who wants to start their day that way?

  2. Ha! Each kid wouldn’t need a personal stop if we could trust the drivers to heed the speed limit!

  3. The use of Schools buses will never disappear yet we are paying millions of dollars in bus parking every decade!

    Best choice is to park them at Public Works Department located on the Sherwood Island Connector. Alternatives Weston parks them at the schools off route 57 or we can rent or buy cheaper land in Norwalk.. No matter what, let’s avoid creating more waterfront parking lots which is occurring now when the buses park by the river on Imperial Ave during the day.

  4. I agree, safety is paramount and children should be shielded from traffic as much as possible. However, a critical issue, in my view, is route density and utilization of bus capacity. The buses are under utilized in terms of their capacity which requires more buses. Route density ties back to utilization. If busses picked up more children in a concentrated area, route density could/would increase as well. . Linda is awesome at managing the buses, but this is a logistical issue that requires logistical input.

    • Point well taken but I believe the district is required by law to provide a seat for every student enrolled whether or not those students ride the bus.

  5. Stopping every 3.5 ft. seems Like an unfortunate consequence as well as all the kids walking around like Zombies with no awareness about their whereabouts. Face it where do they learn this behavior from? A sad commentary when a kid cannot walk a quarter mile or so to the bus stop. I came from a meeting in northern Westchester the other day and got stuck behind a fleet of buses. All the extra stops added almost an hour to my trip. Times have changed since I was a kid!

  6. By Zombies, I meant with their heads buried in their smart phones!

  7. Dan. You may remember a time when there were only school bus stops on High Point Rd. for kids going to Burr Farms Elementary. None for Long Lots. None for Staples. We actually WALKED to school!

    • In 6th grade, a group of friends and I decided to walk every day to Burr Farms Elementary — though we could have taken the bus. In beautiful weather, rain and snow we walked through the woods, across North Avenue and across Rippe’s Farm. It was fantastic — and one of the most formative experiences of my youth. A definite “Stand By Me”-type year.

  8. No doubt we need to save money on the buses, but how about the issues with the budget these days. Let’s see-Landon was able to move $1.6+ million out of school energy budget to pay for cost overruns at Kings Highway. He had a slush fund paid by all of us taxpayers. He hid it from all of us. And no we have an issue with another education budget issue. $400k they have been playing with. Continuing education and how they moved funds around.

    somehow all these budget slush funds and moving money around seems not to get attention. The biggest cost in town-our education budget seems to be somewhat of a joke. Now the head of BofE steps down. A coincidence? Maybe not.

    We need to get control of the education budget. We have great schools and our children are getting the benefit. But Landon is out of control and we are overpaying, not for better schools, but because we are not managing the money right.

    Amazing how many worry about trees and things like that when we have a huge issue going on at with the education budget and spending and our superintendent.

  9. Dan Lasley (Laz)

    Does the bus depot need to have fuel and service capabilities on-site? I think that this is a big factor in choosing a location. I concur with the suggestion above that somewhere along the Sherwood Island connector should work nicely.

  10. I don’t know when it changed but “1 mile” was the distance from school you lived if you got a bus assignment. When we first moved to Westport we rented a house on Long Lots rd just inside the magic mile and walked to Long Lots Jr High every day. Met friends – other walkers along the way. The busses drove right by us walkers! When my parents bought the house on Coleytown it was also just inside 1 mile to Staples and I walked or hitch hiked every day. Timed just right I got a ride every day from the same nice Spanish teacher every day!

  11. It used to be that to be eligible to ride a bus you had to live more than a mile from your elementary school, a mile and a half from your junior high school and two miles from Staples. Pretty sure all that has changed. One day I was behind a bus that stopped DIRECTLY across the street from Greens Farms El. The child got on the bus, the bus then proceeded approx. 100 feet and turned into the driveway of Greens Farms School! Pretty sad.

  12. We live at the end of a long cul de sac, and our two sons have always walked to where the cul de sac meets a main road. The bus stops frequently along the main roads as there are no sidewalks on most Westport’s roads, and drivers are zipping along at 40 mph or more even in areas marked with 25 mph speed limits. This is the reality.

  13. Stephanie Bass

    ..this is like when you decide to put up a picture and realize you need to paint the room; oh, and change the curtains, and oh, buy a new couch…

    We need to address the whole financial educational system in this town. Elliot Landon has had a fifdom for many, many years; he is essentially running a $100,000,000+ business with the Bd of Ed rubber stamping all his decisions and quietly and periodically renewing his contract and giving him a raise, recession be damned. Every year he asks for an increase in his budget, settles for less, then ALWAYS gets more by calling it something else. It’s what my mentor used to call “getting you by the peripherals (sp?)”.

    Mr. Marpe, I was happy when you were elected because Accenture was known as a consulting company that went in and fixed problems, didn’t tell the client what it wanted to hear. As a sophisticated businessman, I hope you and your team will not just hang up a picture, but clean up the whole financial educational house in Westport.

    • Stephanie. So right you are. We should at a minimum get an accounting firm in and look at the so called ‘energy’ line of expenses. What payments were made for true school heating, what was not. We should pick other budget items.

      I would also request the public review Landon’s contract. Is there a clause that prevents him from fooling around with budget items and paying for things from the wrong budget area. If so, what are the consequences. I will play the ‘elephant in the room’ should he be let go because of financial shenanigans. As tough as this might be-he is playing with over a $100,000,000 of our tax money. What programs could our children have if the budget was accurate and these slush funds were eliminated?

      The BofE owes a full review of the accounting over the years. Why was there so much extra money in budget items? I could go on.

      Time for us to pause and do everything we can to get a full review and get us Westporters to trust this again. I don’t think anyone in town can feel like we are in control.

  14. Dick Lowenstein

    Whatever they recommend, let’s use existing blacktopped areas. We should neither acquire additional land nor pave existing town lands.

  15. Amen to what Dick just said. I sure don’t want to hear that the solution to bus parking has the words “Barons South” in it. I’m totally down with saving money, but the traffic on the Post Road around there is really kind of amazing at some points during the day.

  16. Mary Beth Murray

    Hi Dan,

    Although I am in Norwalk, we all have to walk to our bus stops that could be a maybe a 1/2 block away. The only student(s) who get door to door service are those which have special needs.

    But, interesting enough, on my way home from work today, it was an early dismissal day and one of the NPS buses was dropping off – child after child were exiting the bus, (we are in South Norwalk) but there must have been about 30 kids that got off at the bus stop, and there were still folks in their car’s beeping because it was taking some time. I was amazed – thinking what’s the big rush, the kids are just getting off the bus.

  17. Thanks for mentioning both of these issues re. buses. Having been behind the bus on Bayberry Lane that stops every few feet for children of all ages accompanied by parent or nanny I feel a bit nostalgic for the days when kids waited at a CENTRALIZED bus stop together–chatting, being awkward but years later remembering the wait, the place, and knowing each other…we crossed the busy Wilton Rd. to wait at the corner of Patrick and Wilton Roads decades ago. Tony Eastman, my brothers, I and others waited or scrambled to make the bus…and Tony and I are friends today!

  18. So Dick- if we can save money but might need to pave-you say no? You put restrictions on what could be a good saving because of paving? Maybe stones could be used. But let’s not save because we should not

  19. Stay right where we are with the buses…new sites brings on new the way who are they going to want to remediate any oil in ground at current location? The town of Westport, that’s who!! Make a deal with current property owner and DATCO and stay right where we are…again, sometimes the simple solution is to work with the bird in hand rather then chase two new ones…

  20. Marina Evenstein

    safety must be the key to this…. My elementary school kids have it easy with bus stop very close to us, but going to a busy intersection for a bigger combined stop (we are off of KingsHighway/County street where traffic is pretty bad) would not be ideal. However, I can never understand why at some stops the parents DRIVE the cars to the bus stop and not willing to WALK even 1/8 of a mile. I totally understand if it’s cold or raining but it is happening on a normal sunny warm day….

  21. “Ditto” every word you said…Tina Gangi

  22. Terry brannigan

    I’m suprized that no one has commented on the fact that kids can no longer ride bikes to school as a matter of policy