New South Brookline bus system elicits mixed reactions


Nick Eddinger

Certain students have expressed displeasure with changes made to the South Brookline bus, which include the institution of a bus fee.

Nick Cloney, News Editor

It’s 7:45 a.m., and you’re starting to get nervous.  Your school bus has yet to arrive to its new stop, and there’s no sign of it anywhere.  If it comes any later, you’ll be late for class.

By the time the bus arrives, you’re starting to wonder if there’s any other way you could be getting to school. The bus driver assures you that the schedules are being worked out, but you’re not so sure.

This story is only an anecdote, but it accurately describes a situation that many students who live in South Brookline went through early this year. The implementation of a bus fee and redrawing of bus routes have garnered mixed reviews from students.

For the first time this year, the buses that bring students who live in South Brookline to the high school require a pre-paid bus pass, costing $400 a head in order to have access to both the morning and afternoon buses. Many bus routes and bus stops have also been changed from their previous locations.

Matt Gillis, Brookline High School’s Transportation Director of Operations, was unavailable for comment.

According to Emily Engeland, a parent who was a liaison to the board of the Public Transportation Authority Committee, changes to the system were somewhat overdue.

“There were countless parent advocates in years prior and during the process that reported on bus overcrowding and lack of yellow bus service home from high school,” Engeland said.

Junior Mike Wu, who has taken the bus since his freshman year, feels that certain issues have not been addressed. Rather, some new ones have been created.

“The bus route is pretty inconvenient. It goes on all these huge detours way off course to pick up just one student,” Wu said. “On the way back, it’s super crowded, which isn’t really a change from last year. But now we’re paying all this money for it.”

Lisa Cummings, another parent who was influential in bringing about the new system, also has complaints about the handling of the new system rollout.

“The communication thus far has not been great. It was not a very smooth rollout at all.  There were a lot of glitches in the system during the first few days and weeks,” Cummings said.  “But again, there are still a lot of questions about routes and timings that parents have that have yet to be answered by the town.”

Engeland understands that the rollout of the new system has dealt with some problems.

“It has had a rocky start with some of the buses arriving late to the high school, but there have been several adjustments to bus stops and bus pick up times,” Engeland says. “They are still continuing to refine the routes to streamline and adjust to traffic patterns.”

The Z-block bus is also seen as an ongoing source of issues and inefficiencies.  According to Wu, a discrepancy exists between when the bus arrives to pick up students and when it reaches the high school.

“I have to take the early morning bus because I have a class during Z-block, and it comes so early. I have to wake up at 6 a.m. to catch it. But then, it doesn’t get to the high school until 7 a.m., so it just feels like it’s totally not worth it,” Wu said.

Cummings believes that the fact that the town is even providing this bus is a victory.

“It’s just good that the town is finally taking notice of all of the parents who have been trying to get a South Brookline bus to the high school implemented for such a long time,” Cummings said.