By Jet Burnham
October 3, 2019
One Herriman neighborhood has taken carpooling to the next level—residents bought a bus to drive their kids to school.
“I was just sick of carpool,” said Maddie Purser, mother of a fifth and third grader. “I was sick of driving all the time.” Purser invited three families in her neighborhood, whose children attend the charter school Athlos Academy, to split the cost of purchasing a 14-passenger bus.
Nine students now arrive to school on the bus, and each family only has to drive carpool one week a month.
“We are eliminating several other vehicles going and doing driveline every single day because we capture our entire neighborhood,” said Purser.
Her neighbor, Robin White, said they have had multiple carpools in the past few years, but no one had a vehicle that could accommodate all of the kids that needed a ride.
“Everybody’s families are growing, so that was not possible,” White said. Among the four families, there are nine children who attend school and an additional eight siblings.
White said sharing the bus has been fun for the kids.
“It’s filled with all the kids in the neighborhood and everybody’s friends, so it works out nicely,” she said. “And I just love that I only have to drive once a month—that’s fantastic.”
Students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade ride the neighborhood bus, which was previously an airport shuttle. The families installed seatbelts and car seats but left the luggage rack to easily store backpacks. They personalized the interior of the bus and painted a griffin, the school’s mascot, on the back window.
The kids like arriving to school in their own bus.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that cool—but it’s super cool,” said White’s fifth grader, Taylor.
With the seating arranged around the perimeter of the bus, Taylor said they have a lot of fun since they can see and interact with each other. “We like singing and doing lip-syncing,” she said.
Purser created a playlist of the kids’ favorite songs to play during the commute. Her daughter, Emerson, said that is her favorite part.
“The best thing is the music because it’s really loud,” said the fifth grader.
Purser said unloading kids in the drop-off this year is actually quicker than when she drove just four kids to school in her car.
“It took several minutes for them all to get in the car and to get out of the car,” she said. “I can unload nine kids at driveline in a fraction of the amount of time because of the big bus door—you open it and they all run off.”
The bus is also more convenient for those families with younger children. There is room on the bus for siblings who need to tag along when their parent is driving. And driving only one-quarter of the time means fewer interruptions to nap schedules.
“I have to wake [my 4-year-old] in the morning to go, and I also have to wake him from his nap when we go to pick up—every single time,” Purser said. “That’s so frustrating when I’m ruining naptime or am in the middle of something. So now it is so much less. I can commit to a week of carpooling and be done for a while.”
Additionally, the bus is better for the environment because it runs on natural gas, which has cleaner emissions and lower fuel prices than the families’ regular cars.
Their commute isn’t far. The families live on the same street just over 2 miles away from the school.
“That 2 miles—that’s all on Mountain View Corridor,” Purser said. “So, walking is literally not an option. Even biking is really not an option because of the distance and the roads that they’d have to travel to get there.”
Purser said it was easy to find an affordable, used 14-passenger bus and to arrange shared ownership with her neighbors—though they didn’t think she was serious when she first proposed the idea.
“It was a huge learning curve, but we just kind of took the leap and did it,” she said.
Purser said there are a lot of reasonable options available if other families are interested in taking carpooling to the next level.
“It just comes down to finding families that are willing to take that leap of faith,” she said.