The bus stops here

BHS and GMT coordinate for student safety


Connor Byam

Von Hermann (left) and Austin (right) standing in front of the #7 North Avenue bus at its new, 3:30 p.m., pick up location.

Connor Byam, Staff Writer

City buses will now pick students up directly in front of the school rather than at the Downtown Transit Center (DTC).
“[We’ve] heard from some students and some families that they didn’t necessarily want to use, or they didn’t want their kid to use the bus station, because there were reports of drug use, reports of violence, or just reports of feeling unsafe at the bus stop,” Assistant Principal Melanee Alexander said.

After the move to downtown, BHS became one of only two schools in the state where city buses and school buses are one and the same. City personnel are not trained on how to handle student confrontations, and students have been present when adult commuters are fighting. One such fight, allegedly involving a knife, occurred at 3:30 p.m. when many students were waiting for buses like the Route 5 and 7.

The frequency and severity of these incidents led GMT’s Stations and Customer Service Supervisor Romeo von Hermann to reach out to BHS and his administrative team this winter.

“I think we’ve had about enough of this,” von Hermann said. “I think it’s time that we pick up the students [directly from BHS].”
Von Hermann, along with GMT’s security coordinator and school administrators, negotiated for the Route 7 bus to begin boarding outside downtown Burlington High School starting on January 17.

The new schedule allows students to wait for the bus inside BHS, a more manageable and less crowded environment than DTC. In addition, the new system reduces the commuting distance for students who can now board just twenty feet from the school’s entranceway.

“I’ve heard really good things from a bunch of kids,” Alexander said. “I think the best part about this partnership is that GMT has demonstrated that they are part of the BHS community, [that] they want to facilitate our kids’ safety.”
Von Hermann felt similarly.

“I’m actually very satisfied with what we’re doing so far,” von Herman said. “Melanee has been really incredibly, very helpful in terms of dealing with students. Any issue that comes up, she’s ready to address it directly with us.”
Trieu Vu ‘25 is also in favor of the new system.

“I like that [the bus] is closer and that I don’t have to walk all the way to [the DTC] anymore when it’s rainy or too cold,” Vu said. “[But] there are still some problems like people cutting lines while waiting and it being too crowded inside of the bus.”
Alexander says the new system is still in its trial period and says that they are still looking for ways to improve it.
“First, is [the new system] curtailing violence at the bus stop?” Alexander said. “Is it making it safe for everybody who takes the bus from the station? Are our students satisfied?”

Vu believes there is still room for improvement.

“One thing in common at both bus pick-up locations is that no matter where it picks up, the bus is always too crowded for me,” Vu said. “I just hope that we can have two [North Avenue] buses to give students a ride instead of one.”
Hermann recognizes the demand.

“I think we may explore adding one more [North Avenue] bus in the future, because I see there’s a lot of students that utilize that bus,” Hermann said. “We don’t want overcrowding, because student safety is priority, student comfort is priority.”
The changes to the departure of the North Avenue bus are not the only recent steps taken by GMT to ensure the safety of students and the general public. In 2022 GMT hired a security coordinator, the first in recent memory, which led to the addition of security guards at the DTC.

Last spring, BHS security guard Troy Austin reached out to GMT and created a system that allows officials at DTC to report incidents involving students to the BHS security team.

Following the decision to pick up students outside of the school, GMT again worked with Austin to help implement the changes and ensure that the new bus schedule wouldn’t interfere with already existing systems.

Overall, there is unanimous confidence with BHS and GMT’s developing relationship.
“I think so far, everything’s going according to plan. I don’t see any issues right now,” von Hermann said. “My priority is safety and comfort for anybody that comes through here.”