The relocation of a bus stop that drops Pitman High School students a mile away from their original stop has left students disgruntled and parents concerned, prompting Turlock Unified School District to explore options for a potential change in location.
The bus stop, which was previously located near Summerfaire Park on N. Soderquist Road, was moved to Centennial Park on Countryside Drive at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. The change, which was implemented to enhance student safety, was not embraced by students as they were dropped off on Thursday afternoon.
“Basically we get dropped off in the middle of nowhere and we all have to walk in the same direction,” said sophomore Joshua Hughes. “There is no shade so we are all exposed to the heat.”
“It seems to me that any bus stop would be better than this one,” continued Hughes.
Hughes was not the only student who disapproved of the new location, as senior Asma Nagi said that the new stop was unfair to people who live far away.
“I offer rides to my friends often because I feel bad when it’s so hot and they have to walk,” said Nagi.
“This stop isn’t safer either. There are more roads and more cars,” added senior Diana Perez. “It just makes it more difficult.”
The concerns of students were echoed by a group of parents, who attended the TUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday to present a letter that outlined their request to return the bus stop to the same location as last year.
“A group of parents have some concerns regarding the transportation for our students. Due to the change in the route stop to a stop a lot farther on Countryside and Tuolumne, our students are not safe due to having to cross a very dangerous street and the railroad tracks,” as was written in the letter.
Among other concerns, parents said that they did not agree with the change since it makes it more difficult for working parents to transport students to school or to the new bus stop, as well as makes it nearly impossible for parents who do not have vehicles to get their children to school.
“The school bus is the only way of transportation for our students to receive an education,” the letter stated.
The decision to move the bus stop this year came after Pacific Gas and Electric Company prompted the District to close the stop for an extended period of time for a construction project on N. Soderquist Road during the 2014-15 school year, according to Director of Transportation Michele Stone.
“The bus stop was then relocated to Joett Drive at Tramway,” said Stone. “This decision placed the Pitman High School students near residences, from which we received complaints of trash, students in yards, driveways and streets.”
“With student safety as a primary focus for the District, it was decided to explore options for possible change in location for this bus stop,” continued Stone.
Stone said that the bus stop was then moved to its new location near Centennial Park, which provides a safe way for students to walk without disrupting surrounding residences. She said that one benefit of the new location is an established cutout on the side of the road for bus transportation purposes, which allows buses to pull in off the road to load and unload.
The Board of Trustees requested on Tuesday that the Department of Transportation follow up on the issue by researching various options that the District has in terms of relocating bus stops and to report back at a future meeting.
“I am scheduled to meet with the parent spokeswoman next week to further discuss this,” said Stone. “My goal is to report back to the Board of Trustees in the very near future on this matter.”