OPINION: Juniors, just take the bus until next year

By Chris Tsakonas, Managing Editor & Special Projects Editor

A major milestone in the life of many high school students is the day that they get their driver’s license. This achievement usually takes place on or shortly after their 17 birthday, during their junior year of high school. This creates a dilemma here at West Essex: Most students have their license, and in many cases their own cars, but don’t have access to student parking until their senior year.

Rather than allow themselves to endure the hardship of taxpayer-subsidized transportation, many juniors take matters into their own hands by parking at nearby businesses, such as Jumpnasium or 360 Fitness. Everyday, they make the risky uphill trek through the woods to get to school. Others nag their parents to drive them.

With all due respect, I find that ridiculous and unneccesary.

What possible gain is to be had by going to such great lengths to avoid taking the bus? For the first five years of my time at West Essex, I took the bus virtually every day and enjoyed every moment. My bus was usually on time in the morning and got me to school safely. My driver was a friendly Jamaican immigrant whose bemused comments about fellow motorists made me laugh and filled my heart with joy.

To be fair, our busing system does have its flaws. Some bus routes are chronically late, which can be a major inconvenience for students. Others break down, causing frustrating delays. But just because something is broken, doesn’t mean that you should throw it away.

As I said before, our tax dollars go toward operating school buses to transport us to and from school. Why throw our money away? What message would that send to our impressionable youth?

What we should do is call upon our school board and other local officials to make the necessary reforms to make the system better for all of us. Improving on-time performance and making buses easier for students to take would go a long way in restoring confidence in the system and make students feel better about taking the bus to school every day rather than driving.