SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Thousands of students made their way to school Monday morning on district school buses. But with the new year sometimes comes new bus stop locations. For one community in the West Villages, the location of their bus stop - off of South Tamiami Trail and Galleria Boulevard – has left them starting off the school year on the wrong foot.
On Monday morning, 67 kids were picked up from right next to a very busy road where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour. What makes matters worse is that this isn’t the first time. We reported about this last year when the district moved the Gran Paradiso community’s bus stop to U.S. 41 but quickly moved it after all the complaints.
“This morning was a tremendous amount of anxiety. Everybody was concerned about the kids boarding the bus out there, and it was like a giant flashback to last year, and they’ve started this right back up there again,” Jim Burley, one concerned parent, expressed to us.
For the last three years, the bus would pull into the gated community to pick up and drop off the kids – making it convenient and safe for families. Without explanation, though, the transportation department moved it once again onto South Tamiami Trail.
“It’s a terrible way to have the first day of school kick off. We certainly don’t need to go through this exercise every year on the first day of school. In truth, I would’ve thought that lessons we learned last time we discussed this had been completely resolved, but I guess someone has a short memory,” Burley said.
The new bus stop was now on this busy intersection, next to where a county bus stop is as well - which is exactly where a traffic light was installed this year because of how many accidents had been happening here.
“With the new light, they just see the green and they go. They’re not used to the bus sitting there, and where it sits and where it parks, it’s basically turning right into the traffic and that’s the scary part. It might be fine for a city bus with adults but these are young kids,” Eric Kooymans, another concerned parent, told us.
After we joined parents Monday morning in questioning the school district why they changed the location, the Transportation Department said they will be moving the bus stop back to its original location inside the Gran Paradiso community.
“There’s really no reason that it shouldn’t be straightened out – certainly not a good one,” Burley expressed, “It’s a tremendous amount of effort, and it’s amazing that they even need the attention of the media to get something like this resolved which should really just be dictated by common sense.”
As of Monday afternoon, the bus did drop off the students inside of the gated community, which parents say they hope will stay that way for the rest of the school year.