Please Don’t Shoot the Bus Driver

Hi Folks — Here’s yet another sign of the times: A news story about a Rhode Island school bus driver whose bus stalled in the snow. After a while the kids — a dozen middle school students — asked if they could just walk the 1.5 miles to school.

Readers: He said yes!

Readers: He didn’t lose a one! They all made it to school alive, if you can imagine that!

Can you?

Probably not, if you watch a lot of TV. Nonetheless, they did survive.

I just hope we can say the same about the bus driver. – L.

Children were allowed out in this stuff! By a bus driver!

Children were allowed out in this stuff!

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28 Responses to Please Don’t Shoot the Bus Driver

  1. missjanenc January 18, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Kudos to common sense kids and driver! I hope the bus driver didn’t get in hot water. Here in Charlotte one was fired because a kid fell asleep on the bus, and the driver didn’t see him until she got back to the garage. She disobeyed school bus rules of not walking down the aisle to ensure no child was left behind – sleeping on the bus.

  2. Susie January 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Yaaaaaay driver! A plate of the finest cookies in the land to this smart man.

  3. WendyW January 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Assuming the roads and weather conditions were not inappropriate, I don’t have a problem with this. I hope the poor driver didn’t loose his job because of his decision.

    I do wonder though, why the bus company didn’t send out another bus to pick up the kids. I can remember bus breakdowns when I was a kid, and when my oldest was in school (the youngers have been entirely homeschooled) and the drivers radioed in and another bus soon arrived to pick up the kids and finish the route.

  4. Filioque January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    It’s nice (and surprising) to see that most of the comments on the original article are very supportive of the driver, not to mention of the middle schoolers who actually walked a mile and a half!

  5. Erika January 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    WendyW, the roads around here were a mess. Rain that turned to snow that later turned back to rain. The traffic wasn’t so bad once you got into town, but the getting in was bumper to bumper–took me half an hour to go 2 miles. And all the bus companies are out of town, so it would probably have taken an hour to get a bus to him–assuming there was an empty one around. Plus, that area of town (where that school is) is on a hill, and the roads around there were apparently some of the worst in the area. Providence doesn’t exactly deal well with snow.

    Yay to the kids for taking initiative–and for actually going to school, instead of going sledding!

  6. Lisa January 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Wendy, I don’t know but it sounds like the kids *asked* to walk. Plus, I would wonder if it was even possible for the bus company to get a replacement bus out fast enough to get the kids to school on time. Walking 1.5m seems preferable to being late for school.

  7. DaveS January 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Why do I get the sense that if the driver refused to allow them to leave the bus commentators would be railing against the the driver for holding the kids against their will.

  8. Manny January 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    He’ll probably be fired. You know, ‘policy’ and all.

  9. Warren January 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Unfortunately some parent is going to throw a fit, and this poor guy will be out of a job. Unless the students stick up for him.

  10. Lollipoplover January 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    In many states, you don’t have to provide bus service for a student if it’s within 1.5 miles of school. Walking the 1.5 miles was probably the quickest way to get these kids to school and off the roads, and completely within reason of many district transportation laws.

    Yet all it will take is the one outraged parent making a stink of what *could* have happened but didn’t when they walked to school in bad weather.

  11. Captain America January 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm #



  12. Bridget January 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Smart bus driver. I hope they don’t fire him. SIGH

  13. backroadsem January 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but when the roads suck and the distance isn’t far, I feel much safe walking.

  14. Ann in L.A. January 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Now they can tell their grandkids how they had to trudge through the snow to get to school, uphill–*both* ways!

  15. Canada Dad January 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Here in my small town in BC, Canada, Lots of kids walk easily 1.5 miles each way to and from school. If the bus broke down 1.5miles from school there would be 10 other kids walking right past the stationary bus anyway. Would be a shame to wait on the bus while all your classmates with shorter commutes, walked right past the bus. America. You are so broken.

  16. Donald January 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    I followed the link to the providence journal. I read a few comments there. One summed it up so perfectly that I had to repeat it

    “Who would be to blame if something happened to them?” That sentence right there is exactly what is wrong with our society today. The first reaction is not “Wow, what great initiative these kids took. How great that they want to get to school.” Or “What responsible middle schoolers, to take it upon themselves to find a solution, rather than be stuck on a freezing bus during a snow storm.” No… the first reaction is “Who could we blame IF something were to happen. Who would we sue?” How pathetic.

  17. Donald January 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Good one DaveS

    “Why do I get the sense that if the driver refused to allow them to leave the bus commentators would be railing against the the driver for holding the kids against their will.”

    It probably would because that would make a headline that would sell papers.

    Bus Driver Holds Children Against Their Will

    Children Got Bullied Because Bus Driver Detained Them Until They Became Bored

    Bus Driver Kept Children in Freezing Bus

  18. missjanenc January 19, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    Canada Dad, America is so “broken?” Seriously? Plenty of school districts here require kids within a mile or so to walk or provide their own transportation. And if you want to talk wack jobs, Lenore has posted several articles of them from Canada, my favorite being the woman who wanted big oak trees cut down because her high school-age children had nut allergies and she was worried the acorns would trigger a reaction.

  19. rhodykat January 19, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    I was listening to the local talk radio host discuss this yesterday – a mother was horrified about it, and glad that the driver was suspended because “anything could have happened…even though there was a group of middle schoolers walking together…an attempted abduction of a girl from a group JUST happened!” Neither the radio host or I could remember anything about that part. Then a father of one of the walkers called in saying he was glad that the driver let the kids walk – they were capable, nothing happened, and they all went to school instead of spending the day sitting on the bus (which is what would have happened.). Ahhh…sanity. Radio host was completely on the side of the driver, but there are a lot of psycho mothers out there. Guess we’ll be ending junior high cross country programs soon because something might happen to a group of middle schoolers running together for exercise!

  20. Taradlion January 19, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    If the kids didn’t want to walk, my guess is they could have called mommy or daddy (either for a ride or to be told to stay with the bus until a replacement came)… Maybe not, but my guess is that one/some of the kids had a cell phone…if calls weren’t made it was probably because the kids wanted to walk and maybe calls weren’t made because they KNEW mom or dad wouldn’t let them walk with the other kids and that would be embarrassing.

    This made me think of “the walkers”…that’s what we called the kids (they called themselves “walkers” too) that lived withing a mile of elementary school (no bus service). I wonder what they call the kids who don’t qualify for bus service today. Even if some of them walk, my guess is they are not called walkers.

  21. Donna January 19, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    @Taradlion – They are still called “walkers” in my daughter’s school and most still walk … nicely escorted by mom or dad at all times.

  22. Taradlion January 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    @ Donna good to hear! I figured maybe it switched to “parent pick-up” or something….maybe you could call them “the escorted”.

    My daughter (now 11, starting last year) became “self dismissed” and I still had to “update” if school had an after-school program/change in dismissal time, etc. I finally just wrote a letter saying, “She can leave school without an adult regardless of day or time “…If I am going to pick her up or meet her, I’ll arrange that with her.

  23. Liz January 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    The other day my little sister (8th grade) was asked if she knew the way to the mall in the next town over while walking home from school. She said no but them remembered a second later and chased the car down to tel the man. She recounted the story to a mom of a friend who freaked and said the school and police should be alerted of the attempted abduction, because who would ask for directions– we all have GPS. My sister cracked up.
    In other, barely related news, my school had a police mandated lock down because the police did a drug raid on the house across the street and the angry homeowner ran out with a gun.
    We were all fine, and that lockdown while a little bit silly was also justified. However, I’m not entirely sure why they decided to raid a house across the street from a high school during the school day– nobody is ever particularly thrilled when the police show up to take him away?

  24. Emily January 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    When I was in grade school, us non-bus-riders were also referred to as “walkers,” whether we actually walked, or were picked up by parents. However, by the time I got to high school, the “walk zone” was fairly big, so a lot of people who didn’t qualify for bus service from the school, would take public transit instead. That’s what I did, the majority of the time. It wasn’t entirely a “laziness” thing, it was just that school started at 8 a.m., and I had to be up by 6:30 even to take the bus, and since I’m from Canada, with our long winters, it’d often be dark at that hour, and also really cold, so walking wasn’t an option most of the time. However, when I was in elementary school, I started walking to school independently around grade three or four, and my parents were considered to be on the overprotective end of the spectrum.

  25. Vanessa January 19, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    I hope no one pitches a fit and gets the bus driver fired. I can’t see how anything could POSSIBLY happen to a group of 12 preteens and teenagers (my daughter is in 8th grade and she’s 14) all walking together. It’s not like they’re gazelles and a lion is going to charge in and pick one of them off from the back of the herd.

  26. Jemma January 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    What a fun “adventure” for the kids! These are the sort of things that become stories. Actually, I was just reading a Sydney Morning Herald article which pointed out that the things that people remember as “holding them back” may actually have been events that produced resilience.

  27. SKL January 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Speaking of walking, yesterday was a milestone for my two 6yo daughters. They asked and I gave permission to walk to the park (without supervision). It’s a mile away via a winding, hilly route with one street crossing. After a series of safety reminders, I sent them off.

    Did I worry? Yes, I was somewhat concerned that some well-meaning person would stop them or call the cops or something. Or that they would make a foolish choice of some sort. However, none of that happened. I gave them about a 40-minute head start and then drove to the park. There they were, all in one piece, having a great time.

    Later, they proudly told their aunties, and I was subjected to a long lecture. Apparently I don’t care if my children end up being sold into the flesh trade or tortured to death. Sigh.

  28. Melanie March 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    I used to work for transportation at our local school district. I hope that driver didnt get into trouble. Where i worked that wouldnt have been ok. We alwayw had alot of little ones falling asleep on long rides. You are supposed to check after a run, but at least wherei worked as long as you didnt leave them on the bus you were fine. Cant tell youhow many kids were on the bus when you got back to the garage.