Askanim: Lakewood Busing Drill Complete Success


lakewood-bus-drillBy Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, on behalf of Lakewood Community Busing Task Force

We are pleased to report that the two day busing drill was concluded successfully.  On behalf of the Lakewood Community Busing Task Force, we sincerely thank the thousands and  thousands of Lakewood school children parents who actively participated in this drill. Participation was  near-universal and the test drill seems to be an accurate preview of what traffic might look like in the  fall if bussing cuts are not restored.

Special recognition and appreciation is given to the Lakewood Police Department; the various  emergency services serving the Lakewood community and beyond; and all others who contributed to an  orderly and effective dry run of real-life situation we may be facing this September.

Initial data from many observation points and supported by the commercial traffic reporting service WAZE, indicate an average of 20 to 40 minutes of  additional delays due to the extra congestion caused by the additional carpooling.

Especially hit hard was the northbound Route 9 corridor from Cross Street to Lake Carasaljo and the  streets feeding into it; particularly Central Avenue, James Street, Ninth Street and Clifton Avenue. School starting times were significantly affected, generally causing a loss of 30 minutes to an hour of classroom instruction due to the late arrival of many students. The towns hundreds of teachers, educators and administrators were seriously challenged to arrive at school on time.

As predicted, these delays coming in tandem with already heavily congested rush hour traffic, clearly result in a nightmare for commuters, residents, schools children and parents. Working mothers, who already juggling child care and job responsibilities, were particularly hard hit.

At least In Lakewood’s case, the term ‘Courtesy Busing’ is a total mislabeling of the crucial service that is vital to the safety of Lakewood’s children and necessary to keep traffic flowing in an orderly manner.

Please note that this is not an Orthodox issue. According to Lakewood BOE members, 2000 public school students, mostly minority low income students without a household car, are stated to lose their busing as well. As such, an immediate effective solution must be found to provide safe and efficient school transportation for all of Lakewood’s children. The situation is simply unsustainable in the long run. While the task force sincerely regrets any inconvenience caused to residents and commuters during the drill period, the drill was necessary and the results speak for themselves. It should be clear to all stakeholders and decision makers that we must continue to work together in a cooperative spirit to tackle this issue with urgency and resolve to assure that the situation of these last two days does not repeat itself permanently in the fall.

We will continue our joint discussions with representatives of the Lakewood School District, the State Education Department and Lakewood Township municipal officials to find cost-effective solutions to this potential nightmare. With each of us – including the schools involved – doing its share to provide resources and increase efficiency, we will hopeful craft a workable sustainable solution to a most challenging and complex issue.

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  1. I think its time to enroll everyone in the public school system and show them how much money they are really mmaking from our taxes

  2. No WAY! An exercise conducted to prove that there would be gridlock produced gridlock! What a surprise.

    Let’s be honest here- HOW reflective was this of what the reality might be next year? How do we know there wasn’t an intentional strategy to increase the number of cars on the road well beyond what will actually occur in the day-to-day situation?

  3. “We are under strict orders to paint this in a positive light.”

    Nothing wrong with that.

    Could we have some more background as to how this situation developed? Those of us who aren’t in NJ might benefit from some explanation of the state’s system of funding public schools and provisions for support for private schools.

  4. the drill was on a dry day when sunset is after 8. How safe will it be for children to walk, and how will the traffic be, on rainy sleety, snowy, or ten degree days when sunset is before dismissal?

  5. Please please keep all of us, not just Lakewooders in the know of what’s happening. I think that if this is successful, this could become the new way of protesting. Until now its always been done quietly behind closed doors with just askanim and politicians but in many towns, especially out of town this yields very little if anything at all. Maybe it worked 50 years ago but its not working anymore! Perhaps we should be looking at this as more of a model on how to cause change. Everyone should take part in a protest to prove why things aren’t working and perhaps we’ll all be more successful in getting what we want and need. How many out of town communities have been suffering with carpool for years and NOTHING is being done about it. Everyone just assumes that there’s nothing to do. Everyone may need to work together to stage a similar protest, driving your own kids to school instead of carpooling and no one sending your kids on private busing. Get the politicians out there to see what happens. The streets and highways are already all backed up with carpools, imagine if everyone drove just their own kids to every school! Let’s not just sit back and say oh well nothing can be done. Be like Lakewood and let’s fight for our rights!!!