Boston city councilors agreed today to focus some attention on problems ensuring BPS secondary students can get to schools - and after-school activities and jobs - in a far-flung city with an unreliable public-transit system, and will schedule a formal hearing on the matter.
Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, Charlestown, North End) said she's concerned about equity issues in a system that forces most middle-school and high-school students to ride the T to and from school, when some neighborhoods, which she didn't name, but which include West Roxbury, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, have "charter" MBTA buses to ferry students to and from school, while students in her district have to take two and sometimes three different T trains and buses to get to and from schools.
Edwards, who sponsored the request to hold a formal hearing along with councilors Michelle Wu and Anissa Essaibi George (both at large) questioned why BPS and the T run those morning and afternoon charter buses to and from BLS and BLA when there is nothing comparable for Charlestown High School.
She also said she's concerned about safety for kids on the public system. Knowing whether a child is getting to school safetly, she said, "is the one stress, I would think, a parent should not have to have."
Wu, who blasted the T as unreliable (a topic she has personal experience with), noted that, for all the problems Madison Park Vocational-Technical High School has, when one student was asked at a hearing on Monday about the first thing he'd change about the school, he replied: "Transportation."
Wu said she had a graduate student in her office this summer working on a report on student transportation issues. She said she hopes to release the report, based in part on interviews with 300 BPS students, within a couple weeks.
Councilor Michael Flaherty (at large) said kids in the city's more remote southern neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Readville also have problems getting to and from school - some have to get up at 4:30 or 4:45 a.m. just to get to school on time.
Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan), who lives in Readville, says he has another issue: The fact thayt BPS keeps most of its buses in a yard in Readville, close enough to the Dedham line you could throw a baseball from the yard into that town. It just makes no sense, he said to have "300+ buses roll through Hyde Park, roll through Rozzie, roll through Mattapan," to get to other parts of the city to pick up kids.
McCarthy added a major concern in Readville is "you can't even jog the neighborhoo without breathing in the diesel fumes from the bus yard, choking you as you run by."