Line 1 bus stop endangers children’s safety in Saugus
A school bus leaves Route 1 in Saugus on Tuesday. Parents have raised safety concerns about bus stops along the busy thoroughfare. (Hannah Chadwick)
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SAUGUS – A number of school bus stops along Route 1 in Saugus have raised safety concerns from parents and authorities.
Due to a nationwide school bus shortage, the city was forced to cut its bus fleet from six to two at the start of the school year.
The city’s official bus schedule lists a total of nine stops on Broadway, or Route 1, throughout the day; buses serve primary, secondary and secondary school students.
The fact that these school buses stop on busy Route 1 several times during the day is not only a concern for the students, but also for the parents and guardians who pick them up. There are no sidewalks or designated “stops” on the busy thoroughfare.
According to Massachusetts State Police, the usual highway code that requires vehicles to brake for a school bus when it is stopped and the lights are flashing is not in play on a two-way highway like the route 1.
At a school committee meeting on September 24, President Tom Whittredge stressed that the city is making this issue a priority.
“Please call us,” he told voters. “(A solution is) not overnight, but we will work on it.”
During the meeting, committee members also discussed how they have moved bus stops to safer locations by working with bus companies and parents.
“We want to thank the parents,” Whittredge said. “We are working for you guys (and) our ears are always open.”
North Reading Transportation (NRT) works with the Saugus School System to provide school buses to the community. NRT creates the bus routes after student addresses are submitted to them.
After being contacted by WCVB for a report that aired last Thursday, NRT allegedly changed one of its stops so that the bus picked up its young passengers from a parking lot near Route 1, rather than on the street itself.
Saugus mother of two Seana Blanchard told WCVB she was “happy, but shocked” by the change.
NRT chief executive John McCarthy told The Item he was ready to discuss alternatives.
“If they don’t want to move the spots then maybe it should be a different type of vehicle,” he said. “If the parents call us with concern, we can contact the school system. “