Management & Operations

Leaving unruly teens behind

Posted on August 1, 2003 by Steve Hirano, Editor/Associate Publisher

Teenagers acting like, well, teenagers is often not a good thing, especially when they’ve flocked together to wait for the local transit bus after a long day in school. They’re prone to seemingly random acts of stupidity, like running into a busy street and waving their arms at motorists or throwing things at passing vehicles. I seem to recall that we used to think that was funny. But this type of behavior almost got three people killed, albeit indirectly, on Sept. 9. On that day, a nearly empty transit bus operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) approached a scheduled stop but left without taking on the dozens of high school students waiting to board. It seems the bus driver was concerned about the unruly behavior of some of the students and decided it was unsafe to allow them to get on the bus. Minutes later, three alleged gang members drove up and fired shots at the students, injuring three, including one who was left paralyzed from the waist down. The assailants reportedly were trying to kill a rival gang member who was among those waiting for the bus. The blame game Following the incident, officials at the nearby high school criticized the bus driver for failing to stop and load the students. Under MTA policy, however, bus drivers have the discretion to bypass stops when they believe their safety or the safety of their passengers might be jeopardized. You have to wonder if this was the first time this group of students was passed by. If the behavior problem was ongoing, what corrective steps were taken by the Los Angeles Unified School District, local law enforcement or MTA police? At the very least, the high school should be trying to determine if similar outbursts of disruptive behavior are occurring at other transit bus stops. Meanwhile, the MTA should be relaying to all schools any types of situations that could be addressed through school intervention. To its credit, the MTA has convened a panel of law enforcement and school district officials to examine its policy allowing bus drivers to bypass stops. New approach in Beantown In Boston, where more than 25,000 public and private school students use the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system to get to and from school, similar outbursts of teen unruliness have led to the creation of the Stop Watch program. Stop Watch is a collaborative effort among MBTA police, Boston Public Schools police, the Boston Police Department, the Suffolk County District Attorney and the Department of Youth Services to ensure the safety of students and other patrons using public transit during school hours. “Many students would make transit stations their playgrounds after school,” said Lt. Detective Thomas McCarthy of the MBTA Police Department. “In recent years we had a zero-tolerance policy, but that failed miserably.” Arresting students did not stem the tide of disorderly behavior. The Stop Watch program, rolled out this school year, encourages law enforcement agencies to pool their resources to “stop and watch” the behavior of young people going to and from school using the transit system. McCarthy said that students acting in an inappropriate manner are identified by the participating agencies without intrusive police contact. The behavior is then dealt with through the schools or parents or it’s referred to another agency. “So far, it seems to be working,” McCarthy said. Although it’s easy to say “teens will be teens,” allowing a predictably disruptive situation to continue at a bus stop or rail station is both unwise and dangerous. Boston’s Stop Watch program deserves credit for trying a new approach.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

GRTC announces interim CEO

Will replace current CEO David Green, who is resigning at the end of August.

Q&A with RATP Dev USA President Blaine Rigler

METRO’s Managing Editor Alex Roman recently spoke to Rigler about the evolution of tech in the transit industry, the growth of Mobility-as-a-Service, and more.

Palm Tran's Forbes wins COMTO Gerald Anderson 'Service' Award

The award recognizes a COMTO member who has displayed excellent teamwork and service within the transportation industry. 

San Joaquin RTD named outstanding public transportation system

Despite necessary service reductions, RTD consistently delivered innovative and high-quality services.

Mezher joins Mott MacDonald as digital delivery leader

Has participated in projects including California High-Speed Rail, the Amtrak B&P Tunnel in Baltimore, and the Second Avenue Subway.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close