Students’ silent struggle with overcrowding exposed

For all four years that I have studied at this school, I have never truly felt comfortable on the bus. I have needed to stand, sit squished with three other people, sit in the aisle, and have even been kicked out of a bus due to overcrowding.

Global senior student, Bobby Chen, has been staying after school nearly every day since this school year started. He explains, “The 2:30 bus is so crowded I gave up trying to get on. So I’ll stay here until 4:20.” Overcrowding on buses is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. No student should be so hard pressed to get a seat that they sacrifice their time just to find another way home. 

In the mornings, too, students have been kicked off of the bus and left at the stop purely due to overcrowding; these students must call a bus depot for a bus themselves and arrive late to school by nearly an hour. The buses we receive to go to and come from Poolesville High School are from three bus depots: the Clarksburg Annex Depot, Shady Grove North, and Shady Grove South. Every depot has an average of 175 buses; why are we struggling with seating space with so many resources available to us?

There are normally two afternoon bus schedules, the 2:30 and 4:20, but there are days when SMCS students join the 2:30 buses, with no 4:20 bus available. On these days, it gets even more hectic. There are 14 days in the school year when 8th period gets cancelled, and the bus schedule is completely different to try to accomodate for the increased amount of students. Mr. Etheridge, the Head of Security, further explains what happens on these days: unlike usual days, where only one security guard is stationed outside, on the days that 8th period is cancelled, there are two or three security guards. These security guards have the bus information and are updated on delays, cancellations, and bus routes.  Their job is to make ensure every student makes it on their bus safely and without incident. 

However, there are nearly 96 extra students trying to fit into singular buses, and only a few routes have overflow buses. The bus routes that require overflow buses on these days have final stops at Little Bennett, Whims, Sally Ride, Gibbs, and Halley Wells. The secondary buses provided still lack seating space, and every student, whether on an overflow bus or a regular bus, must deal with cramped conditions. In my experience, there are always students who have to sit on top of each other or stand in the back to be able to get home on time. Mr. Etheridge used the example of a bus driver calling security over and stating, “I still have kids coming but the bus is full.” This kind of situation has now become normalized for us and it should not be. 

For all the students who have experienced this injustice, please speak up and talk to Security. They are interested in hearing about your incidents and complaints and would like to implement a change.