Sweat it Out

The R013 bus route faces many obstacles the first week of school.


Abby Slonaker

School buses across Palm Beach County have been plagued by difficulties.

Abby Slonaker, Design and Copy Editor

Lines of sweaty, bus-riding students stand under the sweltering heat of the unforgiving August sun. They wait, sorted by their assigned stop, hoping to finally be allowed onto one of the three empty buses stationed in front of them. This was the reality faced by the many students who are assigned to ride bus R013 in the afternoon. In the aftermath of this event, it is clear that many students share the same sentiment: the Palm Beach County School District bus system needs to be better prepared for the start of each school year.

“The afternoon bus was horribly late for almost every day of the first week of school. I would have been mostly fine with this if the bus administrators did not have us wait out in the sun. I understand that they had to categorize us all by stop, but I don’t really feel like it was necessary for it all to be in the 90 degree heat,” Emily Figuredo, a junior, described her experience.

The upperclassmen and sophomores on this bus route were no strangers to waiting in the blistering heat for their crowded bus to arrive, but the start of the 2022-2023 school year brought even more new and unexpected challenges for both bus drivers and riders.

Since last school year, the district bus system has been severely understaffed due to the pandemic, resulting in less buses available to pick up students.

“The bus would be very inconsistent with the time it arrived in the mornings, sometimes being so late that the students would miss our first class of the day. In the afternoons, the bus would come late every single day. It would range around 30 minutes to an hour late, which was very inconvenient and wasted a lot of our time,” Arya Kamat commented on the events of last year.

A large amount of the Suncoast population consists of students who reside in the Wellington and Royal Palm area. In order to limit the amount of buses needed for one area, students living in Wellington and Royal Palm were assigned to the same bus until they were split into three buses about a week or two after the start of this school year due to overcrowding.

“For the first week of school the bus came late or would be overcrowded to the point that people had to sit in the aisle,” Kamat described.

Not only is this frustrating and uncomfortable, but it also poses a plethora of safety concerns for everyone sitting on the bus. In the event of a crash, students seated in the aisles could be trampled or go flying across the bus, leading to serious injury or even death.

While the severity of these issues has lessened with the progression of the school year and the addition of new buses to the R013 route, the school bus system is still understaffed and disorganized when it comes to punctuality and overcrowded routes. This is not the fault of the drivers themselves, but rather disorganization within the administration tasked with configuring routes and assigning students to buses.

The district bus system has improved since the events of the first week of school, but there is still work to be done to make transportation easy for everyone involved, both district staff and students. As the school year progresses, changes to district transportation are bound to happen. Building a more organized system is certainly feasible between now and the summer of 2023.

So, how can the district improve their bus transportation system to benefit both students and district staff alike? Figuredo and Kamat offered possible solutions.

“I think that the district could have worked on these bus routes prior to the start of school. It might have been easier to streamline the bus route process if they had collected a census of students’ bus stops during the summer and had worked on making routes that worked for the drivers as well as the students,” Figuredo proposed.

“I believe that they should have gotten the bus routes all figured out before school started. They shouldn’t open bus registrations so late into the summer and end up so disorganized when school actually starts,” Kamat suggested.