Posted by Michelle, a member of the Menlo-Atherton High School community, on Apr 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm
From the above article:
"Ken Ranella, the superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, said the district 'isn't strongly engaged' in any efforts with the city to form a shuttle program for local schools, but said the idea is worth considering."
I sincerely hope the district becomes "strongly engaged" in this and/or any other efforts to create a viable transportation system to get kids to and from school collectively. The traffic congestion and waste of fuel resulting from the current "every mom for herself (and her kids)" approach to school transport is ridiculous, irresponsible and damaging for all.
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 6:28 pm
From Staff Report #08-043 City of Menlo Park:
The City’s current shuttle system routes focus on getting passengers from the Caltrain Station to employment centers in the morning and vice versa in the afternoon. Project T3 would focus on the morning commute. It is intended to originate in residential areas and take passengers to the Caltrain Station with connections to Hillview Middle School and Menlo Atherton High School. By serving Caltrain riders the shuttle service may be eligible for grant funding. These two schools were chosen because the students are old enough that more parents would likely feel comfortable having their children use public transportation. The project would develop two additional shuttle routes – one east and one west of El Camino Real. By starting small, shuttle services could begin sooner and ridership levels could be measured. If the services are popular, program expansion could be considered based on actual data rather than studies.
Posted by Richard, a resident of another community, on Apr 6, 2008 at 8:28 pm
Shuttles to and from the train station are very important in terms of convenience and reducing pollution. Cars making a cold start emit most of their pollution in the first few miles, so driving to the train station is a poor way to reduce pollution.
On the other hand, shuttles are a poor substitute for school buses. School buses are highly regulated and, as a result, are the safest motor vehicles on our roads. Not only do the vehicles themselves meet special safety requirements, but the drivers must go through special training including first aid. A general-purpose shuttle will simply not give the same level of safety, and many parents will not allow their youngsters to get on a public bus.
Many local school districts have abandonded school buses to "save money". They have effectively transferred the costs of school transportation out of their budget and onto the community as a whole. No money is being saved, it is simply being taken out of a different pocket. The result is massive congestion around schools, which leads to frustrated drivers and bad driver behavior. Kids are not safe in the current traffic environment around schools, because there are too many cars being driven by impatient and incompetent drivers. We should return to bonafide yellow school buses driven by highly-qualified and competent drivers. Yes, this would cost the school district more money. It would also save lives, reduce pollution, and save everybody else money.
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2008 at 10:39 am
Richard, I agree with everything you say. Yes, school buses would be the obvious solution to the problems you describe. However, those yellow school buses exist only in Candide’s “best of all possible worlds.” The reality is that the California school systems are facing a 10% budget cut on top of currently ever shrinking resources. Shaking a stern finger at the School Board won’t get much accomplished since their financial hands are tied.
If you look at the Transportation Commission project priority list of last year and this year, you will see that this issue is of very great concern to many of us in Menlo Park.
The concept of shuttles to help in the school traffic problem is a response to “don’t just stand there, do something.” In short, Menlo Park is trying to do something. Not perfect, but if it works, it can certainly be better than what we have now.
Posted by Richard, a resident of another community, on Apr 9, 2008 at 7:43 am
Martin, I didn't recommend shaking a finger at the school board. Tossing a check to them would work better. I know they don't have the money, but they can accept grants targeted for this purpose. Yellow school buses would be able to serve students of all ages and might provide better value for the money than general purpose shuttles that can serve only a few schools.