When seventh graders going to Boston Latin Academy, which is in Roxbury, wake up in Charlestown on a school day, the long journey to school requires taking an MBTA bus to Haymarket – often in the dark long before 7 a.m.
The new situation has been caused by the elimination of last year’s dedicated shuttle to Boston Latin Academy due to an expansion of the MBTA’s student pass program, which now allows seventh graders now to ride the MBTA to school. It did not allow that prior to this school year.
The dedicated Charlestown bus, however, to Boston Latin School remains in place.
Parents were horrified to learn just prior to the school year that their seventh graders would have to traverse the dark streets of downtown Boston to get to their “new” school bus. In a letter to the Patriot Bridge last month, mother Virginia Melanson Mansfield detailed her 12-year-old son’s daily journey.
“What this means is that these middle school children need to travel from Charlestown into downtown Boston to catch a bus at 6:40 a.m.,” she wrote. “They are told they need to be at the bus stop at least 15 minutes prior to the bus departure time. In my son’s case, he would have to get up at 5 a.m. to walk to a MBTA bus stop in Charlestown by 6 a.m. to get a bus into downtown Boston. Obviously this impacts his sleep, but more importantly, it puts him into a hazardous and unsafe situation. It is now dark at 6 a.m. and he is required to walk to a bus stop into downtown Boston and wait for a school bus instead of going to a bus in his neighborhood. If he misses the school bus at Haymarket due to MBTA delays, he would have to take a train to Ruggles Station and then a bus to get to school. As you may be aware, this is not a very safe location for a 12 year old to travel alone and in the dark. Safety should be the number one concern for BPS decision to get children to school.”
The Boston Public School (BPS) said the expansion of the MBTA Pass program initiated the change – making the shuttle unnecessary.
“The Bunker Hill shuttle bus stop was available last year for 7th-grade Boston Latin Academy students,” read a statement to the Patriot Bridge from BPS this week. “With the expansion of the MBTA Pass Program to 7th graders at the start of this school year, the Charlestown shuttle bus stop was no longer necessary since 7th grade students are now taking the T to school. Boston Latin Academy students living in Charlestown can now ride the #92 and #93 MBTA buses to the Haymarket MBTA Station, where they are able to board a school bus shuttle to Boston Latin Academy.”
Melanson and other parents of middle schoolers trekking across the City to the school on Warren Street in Roxbury don’t feel that having middle school students commuting through a big city in the dark is appropriate. Melanson has called for a return of the shuttle, but BPS is not at this time considering that to be an option, though they will continue to keep the Latin School shuttle in place.
“The system is not fair,” wrote Melanson. “At this time there is a dedicated bus from Charlestown to Boston Latin School, which is bringing those children directly into school without requiring any travel to downtown Boston by MBTA. The location of Boston Latin School is also much safer than that of Boston Latin Academy. It would seem to me that there should be buses for both groups or buses for none. I am hoping you and the Boston Public Schools will realize the safety issue that these children are being exposed to and take appropriate action to provide a dedicated bus from Charlestown for these young students.”