By Sam Jones
It was an everyday Monday after school, a day of dread embedded in High School folklore. After a weekend of antics and a laborious day in class, a stream of thirty boys ran towards the bus, eager to get on the early ride home. But this day, something was different. The bus, the Number 1, pulled in as usual. The driver, an elderly woman who was obviously new to the service, refused our entry on the bus, pulling away before the boys could react. We were left awestruck. A murmur of protest spread out through the group as the bus had clearly enough seats and no reason was given. However, aside from a comical phone call complaint from none other than Year 11 student Jack Hitchfield, the boys seemed to brush the incident aside.
“You’ve got a school bus!” She told us, holding her finger on the close door button
The next day went along like any other and we all raced to the bus stop. The day was particularly important for me, as I had to catch the number 2 to Bayfair for swim training. The Number 2 came in rather early and many of the boys queued up to hitch a ride. With a smirk, the other lads and I realized the bus driver was the same woman as yesterday. She opened the doors and allowed a couple of passengers off, just as you usually would. But then, deja vu set in. Boys began walking onto the bus, only to be met by the woman shouting at them to get off. “You’ve got a school bus!” She told us, holding her finger on the close door button, waving with her palm. She seemed to dismiss us as if she was a teacher and we were the students. Not satisfied with this, a couple of older boys (myself included) began to question her argument. No, we did not have a school bus that accessed Mt Maunganui. Yes, there was space, quite a lot of it actually. (For those wondering, the boys who tried to get on at the beginning did so respectfully, just as I have seen them do since I was a Year 9.) In response to our answers, the driver simply kept saying that we did have a school bus: a bus to Papamoa, the 33, was our school bus. Anger washed over us as we realized that she was never going to let us on. One of the younger boys, Jett, chimed in with the idea to run to the next stop, hoping she’d see our desperation and let us on. We sprinted down Cameron Road and at every stop we were denied once again: 600-meter run, pointless.
Another plan that has been put in place is to remove all buses
The thing that most angers me about this incident is the fact our government and our local City Council are always pushing for the general public too “not be a part of the traffic problem” and instead get on public transport. But how are we supposed to get behind this idea when buses are either late or come at completely random intervals? And now the bus company seems to want to make us go all ‘Rosa Parks’ on them. Another plan that has been put in place is to remove all buses from Oceanbeach Road, moving them to Maunganui Road, and completely change the Number 1 bus timetable. After calling in with a complaint, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council contacted Keryn Jones, saying “They were totally in the wrong” and that the bus driver had been taken of the road, and retold her role as a driver.
We simply need more effort from the City Council. improve on what is currently a shockingly lackluster bus service. I agree with the government when they say public transport is a must. However, when kids can’t get to school or home on time, is it really a positive alternative?