Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I was driving the 6 last week. There was this adorable little boy that would get on early in the morning on his way to school. He was about 9 or 10 years old. The first day he tried to pay with a 10 ride card that was out of rides. I told him not to worry about it. He sat in the peanut seat and we chatted for his fairly short ride.

A few days later, he got on again. That day he had NO fare at all. He kept digging in his pockets while he looked at me. He knew there was no money there. He was putting on an act hoping to get to where he was going before I noticed. I started to get the feeling his parents were trying to save money (it was rush hour) and kept putting this poor kid in the middle. I explained to him that it was illegal to ride without paying the fare and that he needed to talk to his parents. They should make sure he was prepared to pay his fare each day. I suggested he mention it to them the night before so they had it ready in the morning. I told him it wasn't his fault. It was his parents job to make sure he had what he needed. I let him know I wasn't mad at him, but he needed to talk to his parents. I told him that when people continue to not pay the fare, we call the police and they deal with it. If he continued not to pay the fare, I'd have to do that and I really didn't want to.

The next time he got on, he had his fare. I thanked him and we talked. He was the most pleasant little kid. After he got off, I found myself talking to this other guy. He was a regular rider that witnessed all three occasions. I told him how relieved I was that the kid had his fare. I was angry with the parents for putting him in this situation over and over. I also told him I had been dreading seeing the kid at his bus stop. I knew I told him I'd have to call the police, and I didn't have the heart to do it. I had decided that if he didn't have his fare, I'd just send him back home. At least his parents would get the hint and I wouldn't have to traumatize the kid by having the police show up.

Shame on his parents! What a terrible position to put that adorable little kid in. It is not fair to him and also a terrible thing to teach the kid. They should be teaching him responsibility. I really didn't appreciate the position it put me in either. I'd love to be able to have a little chat with his parents. Hopefully, all is settled and they never to that to the kid...or the bus driver...again!


Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

Maybe the parents don't *have* the money.... However, I agree that's a horrible position to put a kid in. Hopefully they learned their lesson... when you're a parent, especially a poor (financially) one, a police call like that can bring Child Protection on the scene like meat brings dogs. Sad thing is more kids get taken away over stuff like this (and poor housekeeping, which seems to be a big one with them) than for actual physical abuse.

5:22 PM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

And thanks to the wonderful idiots at the State and the mpls schools, kids can be forced to walk up to a mile, or if their parents signed them up for a school outside the attendance area, for longer. It seems to me that the school could swing a bus pass for well-behaved kids like this than to pay for yellow buses for them but...well, common sense always evades some officials.

It's also interesting that kids who take the bus to school have to pay more ($2.25) than kids making trouble on the weekend (.75). Nice policy, Mr. Bell!

9:29 PM  
Anonymous joanna said...

Ohmigosh!! I read the previous post not believing a transit system would charge $2.25 for a youth fare but I went to your transit site & verified the price.
That's incredibley stupid to charge so much for"rush hour" for kids going to school. This hurts families who are struggling and the working poor.I just can't get over the fact the bus system is that expensive. I live in San Francisco for $1.50 I can go over to the next town.
BTW i love your blog:OD you gots love from san francisco!!!

3:01 AM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

Hi, Joanna!

I've spent five winters homeless in San Francisco. Beautiful city but I could never afford an apartment there! But buses are cheaper there than here....

Philosophically, I'm opposed to discount fares for teenagers, not because of rowdy behaviour, but because I believe kids deserve equal rights with adults and special treatment undermines that struggle. When I was a teen, the age limit for having to pay adult fare was 17, not 13 like it is now, but 14-17 year olds had to have a special card. I refused to use mine, preferring to pay the full fare due to my political beliefs. I was glad when the age limit for full fare was lowered to 13 but sad about the reason (rowdy teens going to the Mall of America).

As to little kids (under 12), I support a discount of about one-third off *all day*, and preschoolers (under 6) should of course be free.

One real problem is the general public fare is pretty high here and the rush-hour tax is just terrible. Especially considering it started 1 June 1982 as a "temporary" measure to get around a law that was *repealed* soon after. Lower the fare to $1.50for everyone all day!

Hi, Minneapolis Mayor!

Ironically, I really *am* running for mayor. That said, a mile really isn't an unreasonable distance to walk except in terrible weather. I do think school buses in cities with public transit are generally a waste of resources. I'd like to see the Metropass or College Go-To Pass concept made available to schools at the K-12 level. That would provide financial relief to students through an affiliation discount rather than an age-discriminatory discount.

4:36 PM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

Yeah and the cards could be programmed to only operate on routes that would deliver the child to/from home.

Of course it might be helpful to allow them to head to the library for research as well, considering the horrible condition of school libraries (see a recent KSTP report). However, since the best library around is downtown, home of trouble, that may not be a wise idea.

I'd like to get a better idea of your stands on the issues sometime; not sure if I'd say you're the best candidate, but certainly based on your comments here you're better than Raymond.

2:24 PM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

One of the reasons downtown is the land of trouble is *because* non-troublemakers don't go there enough. Put enough legitimate citizens in a place and crime retreats to the shadows.... Look at what's happened to the Franklin/Nicollet area since condos and Starbucks coffee moved in....

I see no reason to issue restricted passes to K-12 students, but if it's necessary to get the schools a cheaper rate or something, I wouldn't oppose it.

Thanks for the compliment. My campaign officially starts 9 March and my ideas will be publicised then.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

John, Minn, and Joanna - Thanks for your comments. Actually, there are cheaper fares for kids. They get 10 ride cards that are good all the time. I've spoken to some kids that said they get them free from their school. Others get them at a discounted rate.

I used to walk about 2 miles to and from school as a kid. There were no other kids in our area that went to the school I went to. My siblings and I walked from 1st through 8th grade. When we got to high school, they gave us bus tokens. I don't think it hurts a kid to walk a mile or so to school. I seem to have turned out alright...and I have strong legs!

9:58 AM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

John- Perhaps, but you don't solve a troubled area by sending in kids alone. You'd have to send in adults who behave first.

Yeah, those 10 ride cards are littered around some bus stops I frequent. One thing that is helpful about them is that since they require the driver to print them a transfer if needed, the drivers are going to notice if someone is using them and is clearly not that young. It is kind of a waste of paper though.

Jeanne- Yeah, it's not a bad idea to walk to school. I walked about 2 miles nearly everyday in 8th grade and it was the only year K-12 that I didn't get sick. But many parents are too paranoid; some for good reason, some because of Fox News.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

Minn - The 10 ride is now available on the go-to card. That should help the litter situation. I have actually caught adults 30-50 years old trying to use the cards. I always make them pay a fare and tell them they could get a $180 fare evasion ticket for using "Young Adult" cards.Hopefully, that makes them think twice about doing it again.

This particular kid was out near France and 70th, not exactly a crime ridden hood! Hope his parents are being responsible these days. He was a great kid. Not fair of them to put him in those situations.

12:15 PM  

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