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Overcrowded school buses in Southbridge prompt swift action

Updated:

SOUTHBRIDGE (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – A concerned parent in Southbridge reached out to FOX 25 after learning that her child was riding an overcrowded bus en route to the district's new middle-high school.

It's a cautionary tale that happens almost every school year: overcrowded buses.

According to Willimaris Vega, her child, as well as many others, is being forced to stand, sit three to a seat, or sit on the floor of the bus due to the overcrowding.

"Where's the safety of our kids? Where's? I mean somebody's gotta see this," Willimaris said.

Tammy Perrault, the school's principal, told FOX 25 that the school acted swiftly in response to the complaint.

"We got on the buses ourselves to investigate, and to see with our own eyes, in order to better address it.  And then we handled it within the building and within the bus company," Perrault said.

The problem may have been handled in Southbridge, but overcrowding on buses is a widespread issue, Lynn Peterson of the School Transportation Association of Massachusetts told FOX 25.

Parents in Stoughton also reached out to FOX 25 regarding a similar issue.

According to state and federal guidelines, students in kindergarten through sixth grade must have at least 13 inches of room on a seat on a bus, and a good rule of thumb is two high school students per seat.

"It's like eggs in an egg carton.  The kids are safe when they're in the confines of the seat, and the seat is padded so if there should be an accident, they would be protected," Peterson said.

Ultimately, the municipality, the bus company, and the police safety officer decide as a group, how many kids are assigned to a bus.  If parents are concerned, they should contact their child's school.