Increase in County Connection Bus Service for Western Lafayette for Stanley Middle School
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Dear Residents of Acalanes Valley, Hidden Valley, and Happy Valley,
As parents of Stanley Middle School students, we appreciate that our children and teens can ride the County Connection’s Route 626 to get home weekday afternoons from Stanley. We’re calling on our community and Lafayette city leaders to come together to reinstate morning bus, and additional afternoon services of the 626 for our children’s safety and parents’ financial well-being.
The western area of the City of Lafayette is the only part of Lafayette without public or private morning bus service to Stanley Middle School. Without a bus route in the morning to take students to school, the burden has been passed to the parents to either allow their kids to walk (which is often too far) or make arrangements to get them to and from school. This is very hard on working parents or parents who have children at more than one school.
In urban centers and more condensed communities, this arrangement may not be of a lot of concern. But it simply doesn’t work for several reasons in our community. Here are a few examples:
- If children living in the western portion of the City of Lafayette were to walk to Stanley Middle school, most of that walk would be on Mt. Diablo Blvd., a busy thoroughfare. There are also no residences or businesses along much of Mt. Diablo. The walk from Acalanes Road/Mt. Diablo Blvd., is 2.7 mile, 52-minute walk (one way) for a fit adult.
- Many of the streets in the Acalanes Valley/Hidden Valley neighborhood do not have sidewalks or proper walking paths along roadways, and visibility is a serious issue. In the winter, it can also be dark out when children would be expected to start walking to school.
- We all consider Lafayette to be a safe place to raise our children. But we are not immune to the risk of child abduction. If children are walking alone on a regular schedule, day in and day out, it makes them extremely vulnerable. Abduction is another serious concern that should not be dismissed from this discussion. It is absolutely not reasonable for children to be walking to school from some of the areas where bus services have been stopped. Their personal safety would be seriously at risk.
The only option that parents currently have is to drive their kids to and from school. When children are leaving school around 2pm and their parents work until 5pm or later, that poses challenges. Many parents commute to San Francisco and other outlying communities for work so they simply can’t dash out to leave for a few minutes. We’re also an entrepreneurial community filled with small businesses, which means that some parents may have to close their places of business in order to go pick up their kids. There are economic implications for families when they have to close their businesses or leave their offices.
It’s already been challenging enough for parents in previous years, and now with the bus service changes, even if a parent has after-school care lined up, they likely have no means to get their child to after-care or activities. Courtesy rides are no longer allowed and hiring a driver or car service is expensive.
Even though the 626 route departs from Stanley in the afternoon, there is only one run that leaves at 3:03pm. If a student has to stay afterschool for any reason, if just for a short time, then it becomes incumbent on the family to find another way home.
Other parts of Lafayette have morning and afternoon public and private bus service and we’re asking for the same services that families in other parts of Lafayette receive. In addition, it helps our city as a whole to re-institute morning service and expand afternoon service to reduce our town’s carbon footprint and decrease traffic congestion – something that affects everyone in Lafayette, not just western Lafayette families.
The County Connection made these cuts to the 626 route due to low ridership in the past. Currently, there an increased number of Stanley Middle School children who would utilize route 626 to and from school. Therefore, we are bringing this matter to the attention of County Connection, the City of Lafayette, and Stanley Middle School. The bus service cuts are simply unacceptable and the situation needs to be resolved.
We’re calling on our leaders to re-instate morning and extra afternoon bus service, so that the children in our community are able to safely get to and from school and after-care programs.
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