The best bus ever

The best bus ever
Jason Sievers' awesome Art in Transit bus

Friday, January 05, 2007

A full bus!

Yesterday afternoon, I experienced something Boiseans rarely see: a totally full, standing-room-only bus, the 3:15 departure from downtown on the Vista route. The bus was packed mostly with Boise High School students, who ride free with their student IDs - an arrangement made to help cut down on students driving to school.

I'd be interested to know how many teens take the bus instead of driving or catching a ride from their parents. Judging from yesterday, it's a lot, but that may be because Boise High is very convenient to bus service. I'm not sure the same can be said for Borah, for example.

Of course, it's great that students have the option to learn early that the bus can be a great alternative form of transportation. Particularly for younger teens who don't yet have their licenses, the bus is a ticket to freedom. For older students, it's a chance to make a stand for a healthier environment and new ways of thinking in our car/SUV-dependent culture.


Yossarian_22 said...

I've been on that run before and yes, it is usually full of students. They can be unruly at times and the driver sometimes has to eject a student for being nasty or outright abusive.

It's not perfect, but I will still tolerate that just to have a bus system.

Bikeboy said...

SORRY... this is only LOOSELY related to riding the bus...

When I attended Boise High (back in the Dark Ages), there was a bike rack, out next to the Industrial Arts building. It was usually well-occupied. I seem to recall school buses lined up, but can't say for sure... I never rode the bus.

Every now and then, if I groveled appropriately, Mom would let me take her station wagon for the day. But usually I caught rides with other people, or rode my bike. (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of the car kids. I should also note that they had some SWEEET rides - '57 Chevies, '56 Fords, GTXs and Road Runners, Corvettes... none of this "fast and furious rice-burner" rabble like the kids nowadays. Different times. 34-cent gas... and that was for Ethyl!)

Fast-forward a bunch of years (grin): Mom and Dad each has a separate car to get where they're going. (And they drive EVERYPLACE, from the office, to the grocery store 3 blocks away, to church, to the movie-show.)

And it's almost a given nowadays... turn 16, take drivers-ed, get a car and never look back. (Many kids have a job, so they can make payments on their car, so they can get to their job.) If there are 1400 kids at Borah, they likely arrive in 1200 cars. Same with pretty much every school in town, with the possible exception of Boise.

My kids attended Borah. We lived .8 miles away, over plywood-flat terrain. My encouragement to them, to ride a bike or walk met with stiff resistance, particularly from the Missus. "They can't ride a bike! They'll be all sweaty, and have Helmet Hair! They can't walk! A crazed pervert will snatch 'em off the sidewalk, and we'll never see 'em again!!"

They're adults now. I got all excited last spring, because they got some cool "cruiser" bicycles. Had lofty plans to save money, by riding to some destinations. And they did... for a week or two. But now the bikes have become dust collectors. They have cars. Why suffer inconvenience, or physical effort, when you can just hop in, crank up the A/C, step on the gas and go?!!? And THAT is the culture of 2007.

I hate to be a naysayer, but I remain convinced that the only thing that will bring about meaningful change is expensive gas, and vehicle gridlock. And both of those are a-comin'.

Yossarian_22 said...

Bikeboy is right. People are very much attached to the car culture. Walking, biking and bussing are socially stigmatized.

BUT....higher gas prices and the end of suburbia will change all of this. Bikes will rule the streets, walking will be the norm and building usage will be reprioritized for the most logical apps.

Julie in Boise said...


Your comment actually gets to the very heart of the matter. What will it take to create change in our habits? It's just too easy to take the fallback position of driving.

My daughter rides a school bus this year for the first time (in seventh grade). Until now, she walked. She walked every day from kindergarten through sixth grade. In K through 4, when we lived in Twin Falls, it was about a half a mile. In grades 5 and 6, it was 7/10ths of a mile. The district offered bus transportation since she had to cross Overland, but I thought that was absurd. She walked. I walked with her for the first year or so, then felt confident she could do it alone.

Now, however, she's in junior high, a little over 2 miles away. She rides the school bus to East JH. If she misses it coming home, she could catch the Warm Springs bus downtown and transfer to the Vista bus a block away - or she can call Mom for a ride. Which do you think she does?

N! said...

Are you certain that Boise Schools don't provide bus service to the high schools? According the their website they offer service to any student living more than 1.5 miles from school. My sister graduated in 04 and rode bus. My younger sister will be attending Borah next year and I'm pretty certain she'll be able to ride as well.

Julie in Boise said...


Thanks for that. I've been under the impression since moving here in 2004 that only elementary and jurnior high students are given bus transportation, but I checked the website, too, and it does say all students. I've changed the main post.

I'm guessing these must be kids who live outside the Boise High boundaries but are there under open enrollment and thus must find their own way to school. In any case, I applaud them for riding the bus!

The Boise district is currently changing its boundaries again, which may mean more kids will need to catch a Valley Ride bus to attend their chosen school.

Anonymous said...


can i say that any louder?

i don't care who's "unruly" and i don't care anything about them.

don't drive. don't drive, don't drive.