Kids on board
I was not too surprised when I heard the Georgia DOT audit of the Rome Transit Department highlighted the issue of using city transit buses as school buses (see the Feb. 14 Rome News-Tribune article “GDOT audit says city bus service with Rome City Schools must end.”)
In any other county, you will only see the classic yellow buses taking kids to and from school, and there are reasons for that — primarily safety. While I know this double-duty use of the vehicles has enabled a citywide transit system that many depend on to get around day-to-day for the past 35 years — and I would hate to see the transit system ended — I have long felt using the same buses for picking up and dropping kids off for school is a tragedy waiting to happen.
There are no markings to indicate that school children are on board, so people who are not aware of the system, or even if they are aware but just forget the time of day, often ignore the stopped bus and try to pass in the opposite lane (which I’ve seen happen on Maple Avenue) or in the inside lane of four-lane roads (which I saw about a week ago on North Broad Street). Drivers have no signal or indicator on these buses to tell them to stop other than the red lights used for regular passenger pickups. It’s easy to assume the bus is stopping for a city stop and there is no reason not to continue past as usual. I am amazed a child has not been hit — so far — when trying to cross a road at one of these times. Sure, the bus driver is supposed to let the child know when it’s safe to cross, but kids are kids ...
If, somehow, the bus agreement between the transit department and schools is allowed to continue, I do hope they strongly consider putting similar safety features on the buses that are on regular yellow school buses, such as a stop sign and an arm that extends out to block traffic, and — if I had my way — a neon sign on top of the bus that lights up at stops saying “STOP! Kids on board!”
There has been an odd trend since selfies became the norm in the past few years. I’ve noticed in our police reports that there is an increasing number of young people who think they should smile for their mug shot when arrested like they are going to post the photo on Instagram. Often pretty young ladies, they give their best beauty queen smile or Kardashian duck face to the camera, drinking in their moment of fame. I suspect those smiles will be gone the next time they are in jail for a photo shoot. I think it’s safe to say they’ll be back, because they obviously aren’t learning from this mistake.
In previous years, you would see people either looking terrified, sad or mad. The rare smile was from someone who was obviously too high or drunk to know the trouble they were in. One of my favorites was one that FCPD Sgt. Chris Fincher, during his previous incarnation as an RN-T reporter, had taped to a wall behind his desk. The man looked like Charles Manson after partying all night on ecstasy, with a colorful sock tied around his neck as a bow-tie. You could tell that guy really thought he was having fun. I wonder what he thought when he woke up the next morning.