The good, bad, and the ugly of students affected by the 621
In the shadows of unity dances and class bonding, students are pitted against each other daily. Some at American experience it academically, trying to beat out the students around them for good colleges and jobs in the future. Others attempt to out-run, out-push, and out-fight other students for a chance to go home after school.
“The thing that memorable is the driver always tell the students to move back on the bus, because some students might not be get on the bus when there are too many students,” recalls Xun Sun (12). There are multiple sizes of buses that AC Transit currently has in use, but the most common sizes for the 621 line is sixty feet and forty feet. Sixty foot buses can seat around fifty people depending on the model of the vehicle, while forty foot buses can seat anywhere from thirty to forty people depending on the model. The rest find space in the isles of the bus.
There are no official counts of how many get in line in hopes of getting on the 621 and how many students fit all depends on how willing the students already on the bus are willing to make room.
Some of the most notable reports recently were the 621 dropping off students at school over ten minutes late on November 8th.
“Sometimes we have thirty-five kids in here [Gateway] that ride the bus, and it gets a little crazy,” says Ms.Guevara, an attendance clerk at American High School.
In addition to problems in the morning, students are often fighting to get on the bus after school. Evan Liang is a sophomore who rides the bus in the afternoon who shared his experience with the Eagle Era.
“No one sits on each other, you just push a lot,” says Evan Liang (10). Near the beginning of the year, students pushed to make it on the bus, because the bus would not be able to fit everyone. This situation put students and bus drivers at risk, so campus supervisors started monitoring the bus line, even making makeshift lines and enforcing them.
Students and their parents have notified AC Transit of these problems, but their solutions to the problem have not always been clear. Robert Lyles, head of media relations, cites two altercations made to line 621.
“The first was during Spring semester 2018, we added an additional five minutes to Line 621’s morning trip. The addition of time distributed throughout the trip is intended to increase on-time performance,” says Lyles. However, this line is known to show up to stops more than five minutes late up to this fall semester.
“The second alteration was ensuring that Line 621 operated with one of our largest capacity coaches. At the start of Fall semester 2018, a 60-foot articulated coach with capacity for over 80 passengers was added to the route. From September 4 through October 30 a 60-foot coach has operated almost exclusively on your school’s route,” says Lyles. This articulated coach has been a positive change to the route, when it is available. Few occasions in this time frame and many outside of the time mentioned, students have been shortchanged with a smaller bus. This can happen because the articulated coach is sent to Thornton instead of American or because the coach was sent to a route such as line 99. While this is an improvement, students still attend school after Halloween and still need the articulated coach to show up at AHS consistently.
While the situation continues, the way the students at American react to the situation can change. Real unity is not harnessed from dances and skits, but through standing up for each other. Bus riders can continue to make their voices heard by AC Transit, sixth period teachers can refrain from keeping students in class after the bell rings, and all students at AHS can be mindful of each other. Most students who ride the bus do not have the liberty of taking their business elsewhere, but all students can work to make the situation a bit easier.