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The Trip to Bronx Science: A Long Ride to a Choice School

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The Trip to Bronx Science: A Long Ride to a Choice School

By AMANDA M. FAIRBANKS

NY Times

Published: February 12, 2008

 

[float=right]12bus_190.jpg

Christian Hansen for The NY Times

The X32 express bus takes students

like Jeffery Gerage, in the front row,

a 16-year-old junior, from Queens

to the Bronx High School of Science.[/float]Three bridges connect Queens

to the Bronx. But if you are a high school student dependent on public transportation, the 10- to 15-mile trip can easily translate into hours on the subway.

 

So Rasheda Browne, a freshman at the Bronx High School of Science, takes the city’s X32 bus at 6:33 every morning from her home in Jamaica, Queens. The trip takes an hour and a half each way, and costs $5. For Rasheda, it is worth it.

 

“Our teachers would tell us the school was really good, but it’s hard to get to,” said Rasheda, 14, between bites of a flatbread breakfast sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts one recent morning. “I had to decide whether I really wanted to go there to get a better education.”

 

Until the 1960s, nearly 90 percent of Bronx Science’s students lived in the Bronx. These days, though, Queens students are a majority of the student body, and because the city’s Education Department does not provide bus service for high schoolers, they have to find their own way to school and back.

 

About 50 to 70 riders take the X32 each day, most of them going to Bronx Science, according to New York City Transit, which operates the line. Transit officials said the X32 was the only public line that delivers students directly to one of the city’s nine specialized high schools.

 

Three buses depart from Jamaica, Oakland Gardens and Bay Terrace each weekday, making one morning trip to the Bronx and one afternoon return. Efrain Velazquez, 49, a driver on the bus on and off for 15 years, called it the “school special.” While other city buses are crowded and full of people with bad attitudes, as Mr. Velazquez put it, his is not. Most riders nap in the morning and do homework in the afternoon.

 

“You can’t get better than this,” said Mr. Velazquez, who said he often waited for his regular passengers when they were running late.

 

Two private companies also provide shuttle service to Bronx Science from Queens. The cost is greater — up to $2,400 a year in $200 monthly payments as opposed to a maximum of $1,800 at $5 a ride — but more than 1,200 students choose the higher price. Although middle and high school students qualify for a free MetroCard if they live a mile and a half or more from school, it cannot be used on express buses.

 

As the bus left Rasheda’s stop at 165th Street and Hillside Avenue, she called her friend Yeji Jung, waiting at the second stop of the morning, at 188th Street and 73rd Avenue, to tell her the X32 was on time. The two have perfected this routine since September. “We’re on our way,” said Rasheda, whose parents immigrated from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean before Rasheda was born.

 

Like many X32 riders, Yeji, a 17-year-old senior, generally takes the subway home because it is cheaper and time is less of a worry. Also, the 3:40 p.m. departure time precludes taking part in after-school activities. But Yeji spends more than two hours on the afternoon commute — the No. 4 train to either the N or W, to the No. 7, and finally a local bus.

 

As she plopped into her seat, she said she was glad this was her last year at Bronx Science. Accepted early to New York University, she said, “I will live in the dorm where a commute won’t be a problem.”

 

At 7:23 a.m., the three X32s converged at Parsons Boulevard and 14th Avenue before going en masse over the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

 

Mr. Velazquez’s bus, the last in line, carried 11 students. Five were asleep when the Manhattan skyline whizzed by to the left and the Throgs Neck Bridge to the right.

 

On the return trip, Albert An, 17, a senior, was one of five riders. Reflecting on his experience at the school, he said, matter of factly, “This year has tempered my ambitions since my calculus score is not quite up to par.” In sweat pants and socks, Albert then slept the rest of the way, taking advantage of the reclining seat backs.

 

The first to get on the bus in the morning and the last to get off in the evening, Rasheda walked through her front door at 5:10 p.m. A full night of homework awaited her.

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They should make the X32 fare $3 since it does use local buses for express buses. I mean kids ride it to get an edumacation. Cut them some slack....

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You know, if I had to decided to attend this one school in North Bergen, NJ, my trip might end up close to an hour and a half. Back when I graduated. I would've had to take a bus to JSQ, then take the 83 from North Bergen and that takes a while, and the trip can be brutal if traffic is really bad in Union City. Good thing the light rail is open all the way to Tonnelle Ave, would cut my trip lots of time, and especially now that I can't get to JSQ anymore directly.

 

But yea, if your getting an excellent education, its worth the trip to take.

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They should make the X32 fare $3 since it does use local buses for express buses. I mean kids ride it to get an edumacation. Cut them some slack....

 

I don't see why students shouldn't be able to ride it for free, and make it an exception to the rule for express buses in general, since it's a route specifically designed to transport students. I understand that you can't have all the kids riding the express buses on their student cards for nothing, but I think an exception can be made for the X32.

 

If you're going to get a good education there (which not many of the public schools offer), the long commute is worth it. The extra money, though, is a major drawback.

 

Thankfully, I only had a 30-40 minute ride each day when I was in high school. (I had to take the Bx4 to Parkchester and then the Q44.)

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I don't see why students shouldn't be able to ride it for free, and make it an exception to the rule for express buses in general, since it's a route specifically designed to transport students. I understand that you can't have all the kids riding the express buses on their student cards for nothing, but I think an exception can be made for the X32.

 

If you're going to get a good education there (which not many of the public schools offer), the long commute is worth it. The extra money, though, is a major drawback.

 

Thankfully, I only had a 30-40 minute ride each day when I was in high school. (I had to take the Bx4 to Parkchester and then the Q44.)

 

That the Board of Education has to do. MTA only will provide that service, but the B.O.E or the school has to fund it. If not they will provide the service, but it will cost. They don't use MCI's, that's why I say it should be $3. School tripper buses uses for public schools, are paid for by the B.O.E..

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That the Board of Education has to do. MTA only will provide that service, but the B.O.E or the school has to fund it. If not they will provide the service, but it will cost. They don't use MCI's, that's why I say it should be $3. School tripper buses uses for public schools, are paid for by the B.O.E..

 

Oh, I see. I wasn't aware that was how it worked.

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