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Students express mixed feelings about new school buses

Students express mixed feelings about new school buses

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by Lyf Compton

The government owned, privately operated school buses, which came into operation yesterday, have received mixed reviews from students.

The 10 Toyota Coaster buses were leased to private operators primarily to transport schoolchildren, amid complaints that they are often left behind as van operators race to transport adults, a more lucrative segment of the market.

SEARCHLIGHT visited the bus stop at Mahogany Square, Richmond Hill yesterday and spoke to several students about the introduction of the buses.

Teriessa Jack of Stubbs said she did not have a huge problem getting home in the past, but her mother told her to make use of the new service and she is glad to do so. The Intermediate High School (IHS) student praised the initiative, stating that the bus that operates on her route allows her to be transported to and from school more quickly and with less wait.

“The bus came at a good time, because the sun is hot right now and sometimes we have to wait long,” said Teriessa.

St Vincent Grammar School (SVGS) student Moraldo Mornix, who lives at Diamond, described his route bus as “fast and good”.

He said that he rode the bus to school on the first morning and he was glad for the service, as the bus that usually catered to students on his route had stopped working.

“I would now have no problem getting home; this new bus is better than the other one,” said Moraldo.

Alisa Charles, a student of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS), who also lives at Diamond, said the introduction of the bus was “a good thing,” but thinks that its first trip to Kingstown at 6 a.m is “too early”.

She said catching the bus at 6 a.m. means that she arrives at school around 7 a.m., one hour before the school day starts.

“…I reach for seven, but at least I will have no problems getting home. It is good to have the bus,” said Alisa.

Other students interviewed refused to give their names, but said they attend the IHS and would not use the new buses.

“I rather the ones with the loud music,” said one boy, while another student said that he prefers the decorated buses, which he described as “hot”, meaning trendy.

Another student said that none of the buses operate on his route, while a male student said that even if they did operate on his route, he would not catch them, as he prefers the trendier buses with modern music.

SEARCHLIGHT also spoke to Lowmans Windward resident Calvert Barnwell. Barnwell operates one of the 10 buses and described the initiative as, “a very good job”.

He said that his aim is to begin operations at 6 a.m. every morning, transport schoolchildren up until 9 a.m., then pick them up again at 3 p.m., in between doing his daily rounds.

He said he has no special time when he will cease daily operations, but his main aim is to get students where they want to go then transport adults after.

“This is a very good thing and I will make a good living from it, as I have been doing since 1982,” said Barnwell.

He added that this is the first time in history that any government has introduced an initiative of this nature.   

Barnwell’s bus operates with a female conductor, Francina Andrews, who said she was glad for the new bus.

The 10 new buses were handed over to the Government by the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) last week and have a total value of US$300,000.

The bus travelling from the Greiggs/Lowmans Windward caters for students at the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia (EHSM), the St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua (SJCM) and the Mountain View Academy, while the bus that originates in Marriaqua is servicing students who attend schools in Kingstown.

The bus on the Keartons/Layou/Dubois/Penniston/Vermont/Buccament route is providing students at the Buccament Bay Secondary School and the Barrouallie Technical Institute with transportation. One of the buses, originating from Kingstown, is servicing students going to Campden Park, Clare Valley and Buccament, while the Spring Village bus is operating between Spring Village and Fitz-Hughes. There is also a bus which takes students to Belair, while there is one dealing with students from Diamond and Lowmans Windward. Another bus goes from Fitz-Hughes to Kingstown and one goes from Fair Hall, Belmont, Calliaqua and La Croix to schools in Mesopotamia. There is also a bus that can take students from Kingstown to Mesopotamia.

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