“There are no seats on the bus”: Inside Mason’s overcrowded buses

Stella Turner, Features Editor

“Are there any spots left?” asks a boy carrying a saxophone. As he walks up and down the aisle looking for a seat which he can squeeze into, he trips over someone’s basketball bag.

He has to sit down on the edge of a seat with two other high schoolers already packed in. He and his instrument case are almost completely in the aisle, blocking the path for students at the next stop.

It’s no surprise to students that at the beginning of each school year, buses can be crowded. But after two months of school, some George Mason students are arguing that the crowding is getting out of hand compared to past years.

Student riding the bus to school in the morning.
George Mason and Mary Ellen Henderson students riding the crowded bus in the morning. (Photo by Stella Turner)

“There are too many people,” Jasmine Rodriguez-Black, freshman, said. “There have been days where I’ve had to walk home. There were no seats on the bus.”

With student enrollment constantly increasing in Falls Church, more people rely on school buses for transportation. 

“The ridership numbers are well within acceptable limits,” Nancy Hendrickson, Director of FCCPS Transportation said.

As Hendrickson explained, the department looks at bus drivers’ official counts to check if any busses have too many students.

“If the bus is truly overcrowded, then we will work to make adjustments to remedy the situation,” Nancy Hendrickson said.

Busses are considered “overcrowded” when they reach 58 students. 

“Because students can move from bus to bus, it can be challenging to manage ridership numbers. Some days a bus can have 49, then the next day it may have 59.” Hendrickson said.

With 58 students on a bus, multiple rows have to sit three people to a seat. This can be very awkward with high schoolers, especially with the instruments, backpacks and sports equipment that students have to carry to and from school.

“I feel as if they could work through that by getting new busses. We need more bus routes.” Rodriguez-Black said. 

While 18 busses are currently running routes every day, FCCPS has a total of 23 in their lot.