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THE BIG FIX

How to get from here to there. A bus with a view? A monorail? Your own two feet?

Retire the big yellow 'Twinkies'

December 27, 2007|BY ERIKA SCHICKEL | Erika Schickel is the author of "You're Not the Boss of Me: Adventures of a Modern Mom."

There are more than 24,000 school buses in California's fleet of belching, lung-corroding "Twinkies" (as kids call those old, yellow, rounded buses), but not one of them has ever stopped for one of my kids or any of the kids I know.

We have two issues here: an aged, smog-spewing fleet of school buses, and a city that is jammed with commuters. At 3 p.m. on any weekday in L.A., a lot of those commuters are moms shuttling kids.

Let's make city buses accommodate school kids. Maybe not elementary school students, but buses should be a reasonable option for middle-schoolers and up. Student bus fares -- now $24 for a monthly pass on Metro buses -- should be free for low-income families and reduced to 25 cents a trip for other student-ID-wielding kids. Bus lines could be routed for school pickups.

Since my daughter started riding the #7 Pico bus home from school, we have saved greatly on gas and time. Best of all, I no longer battle gridlock. But I am an anomaly. Your average Westside mom is hesitant to let her lambkin ride the big, bad city bus alone.

I get it. Crazy people also ride buses, and often the bus barrels right past my daughter's stop, in which case she calls me on her cellphone.

Couldn't we reassign L.A. Unified school bus drivers to school-heavy routes where their "Hey! Down in back!" people skills could be put to good use keeping kid-packed city buses safe and civilized?

Less pollution, less traffic and future generations growing up with a comfortable, working knowledge of public transportation -- let's make city buses into school buses too, and literally leave no child behind.

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