Why My Kids Ride the Bus


Because I make them.

It’s as simple as that. Just like I make them turn off lights when the leave a room and make them turn off the tap water while brushing their teeth and make them place empty cereal boxes in the recycling bin.

They don’t like it much. They say the bus smells (it does!) and sometimes, kids are rowdy. Often, they tell me, the bus driver is grouchy. If I drove them to school, they argue, they could sleep in a bit later (not that they would!) and would get home a bit earlier in the afternoons.

It’s true. And yet, I persist in making them ride it. Why? Because we live only one mile from their school. In fact, 90% of students included in this school’s zoning district live within a three-mile radius of the campus. And yet, when I used to drive them every morning and pick them up every afternoon, I’d wait in an exhaust-filled line of cars (each with one parent in it) almost a quarter-mile long.

It was ridiculous. There weren’t enough spaces for these cars. Children were clogging the front entrance waiting for their rides and migrating to the (off-limits) side road to meet their vehicles. It was a long, inconvenient, and frustrating experience. As far as I know, it still is, but I refuse to be a part of it. My kids and I have made a change. Now, they walk half a block to meet their bus in the morning, and step onto it at the curb outside their classrooms in the afternoon.

And they don’t much like it. (But then again, I don’t much like using cloth napkins…but I’m doing it anyway!) And there’s one less car on our neighborhood roads between 7:15-7:30 am and 2:15-2:30 pm.

Do your kids ride the bus? Do you car pool? What works for you? Also, what green measures have you implemented that your family rails against?

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Amy Whitley is excited to be writing bi-weekly for the 5 Minutes for Going Green team! You can read more about her attempts at eco-living at her blog The Never-True Tales and find great places to travel with children at her review site Pitstops for Kids!.

16 Responses to Why My Kids Ride the Bus
  1. Nikki Jo
    January 26, 2010 | 12:39 pm

    Our district doesn’t have busing for any child living within a two mile radius of the school.

    For two years, we lived just under two miles from the school – my kids rode their bikes. (ages 7 and 9 at the start and they carry a cell)

    This year, we live about a mile from their school and they still ride or sometimes walk. They were 9 and 11 at the start of the year.

    We live in Florida, which helps with nice weather except for some rain occasionally. I like making them ride/walk because they are guaranteed that much exercise everyday!

    1 mile is absolutely an acceptable and good measure of walking exercise and depending on neighborhood/siblings/etc, perfectly safe.

  2. Amy Whitley
    January 26, 2010 | 4:19 pm

    I think that’s a great solution! Here in wet, cold Oregon, bike riding is a hit or miss activity, but I do envy the kids who live within walking distance of the school.

  3. Amber
    January 26, 2010 | 8:03 pm

    I rode the bus when I was a kid, but my own children won’t have that option. There isn’t any bus, and we live only a few blocks from their school. My oldest will be starting kindergarten in September and we plan to walk to school when she does, which is the best option available to us. I’m kind of looking forward to it as motivation to get out every day. Although, my tune may change when the rainy season sets in. ;)

  4. Amy Whitley
    January 26, 2010 | 8:16 pm

    I hadn’t realized how many places don’t offer bus service, but you seem to have the perfect situation. I wish we lived close enough for the kids to walk!

  5. Melissa
    January 30, 2010 | 8:19 pm

    Hurray! It’s time we all encouraged kids to walk or ride bikes if they live less than a mile from school. Give them some freedom, fresh air, and the opportunity to get exercise. What better way to unwind after school than walking or biking with friends? My two sons enjoyed getting themselves to and from school and even had some extra talking time together when they were growing up.

    If there’s a bus, by all means, do not offer a car ride. That’s wasteful and the wrong message to your kids. They will want to rely on cars for everything – bad for the environment!

  6. Amy Whitley
    January 30, 2010 | 10:51 pm

    Thanks for commenting Melissa! So many parents give their kids rides, I feel like I’m doing something horrible to them by forcing them to ride the bus, but I am encouraged by the message I’m sending them (and the fact that they sit together on the way to and from school…a moment of togetherness before departing to their separate grade levels).

  7. Diana
    February 4, 2010 | 6:45 pm

    One little green thing we got our family into was reusables for lunch.
    While we still use wax paper with an elastic band for sandwiches, all the kids lunches are put in a Carebag. We got turned on to them when we read a Safemama blog review a while back and they are great. You can buy single green reusables on the website and they are super cheap for how good they are. Here’s the address. http://www.carebagsonline.com

  8. Jen
    February 5, 2010 | 3:41 pm

    We used to walk to and from school every day. I would say it was about a 3km walk each way. I noticed kids in our neighbourhood gets bused to school (it would take maybe 10 minutes to walk there). Does no one walk to school anymore?

  9. Amy Whitley
    February 5, 2010 | 6:58 pm

    These are great! And a bit more affordable than some other brands. Thanks for alerting me to them!

  10. Amy Whitley
    February 5, 2010 | 6:59 pm

    I have no idea why kids don’t walk any more. It can’t help the fresh air/obesity problem in our youth either, though, can it? Sigh…

  11. Melissa
    February 9, 2010 | 10:05 am

    Have to share this: When I was young, we lived way out in the country and had a 30 minute bus ride to school. I was always so envious of the kids who had the “privilege of walking” because they had all that independence, not to mention fresh air. Not sure why today’s young people fail to see the many benefits of outdoor exercise – it’s great!
    Here’s a link with more info: http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/outdoor-exercise-benefits.aspx

  12. Amy Whitley
    February 9, 2010 | 10:39 am

    That’s great, Melissa! I don’t envy you the long bus ride. My best friend growing up had a 45 minute one, and it made for an early morning and a long day. But I think she got all her homework done on the bus!

  13. Leslie
    February 23, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    Good for you! I am a teacher so my kids ride with me to school. On a strange day when one child is sick and I have to do the “car line” to get the other, I dread it all day. Fumes of oil all over me and the car, lines of angry, impatient parents, ugghhh. Bad for my mood, bad for the environment, etc. If I were a Stay-At-Home Mom my kids would ride the bus “because I said so.” I don’t think kids hear that phrase enough these days!

  14. Melissa King
    February 23, 2010 | 1:58 pm

    Excellent points about the car lines. If only parents would realize that all those car motors idling in school driveways are contributing significant amounts of exhaust into the air. Why do they think it’s preferable for their children to jump into an automobile, when they could be skipping along on a sidewalk, getting the added benefits of fresh air and exercise? We have become such a nation of “car-dwellers.” Maybe First Lady Michelle Obama can make walking or riding bikes to school part of her fight against childhood obesity. That might get more media attention.

  15. Amy Whitley
    February 23, 2010 | 4:21 pm

    So true. I’d forgotten how stressed waiting in that line made me. We were always worried about being late!

  16. Amy Whitley
    February 23, 2010 | 4:22 pm

    We are ‘car-dwellers’. Good point. I hope Obama does make that an issue in her fight against obesity. Thanks for commenting!