Get on the Bus

A photo of Corinne Savides Happel '05

Corinne Savides Happel ’05, the mother of five children under age 10, is a pediatrician and community activist. Her issue: school transportation.

When Corinne learned in spring 2023 that her children’s bus route in suburban Howard County, Md., had been eliminated as part of the district’s adjustment of school walk zones, she got busy. “What really got me involved was that the school bus coverage policy was changed without any community input,” Corinne says. “Families were surprised.”

She founded a grassroots organization, Neighbors for Buses, in response to the county’s decision to cut busing services for over 3,500 students. Title I schools—those with a high percentage of students from low-income families—were disproportionately impacted, raising equity concerns, because many of those families may not have access to private transportation.

Safety was another worry. Fewer buses means more children walking or riding bikes longer distances to school, sometimes in bad weather. To prevent deaths in car collisions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises against allowing children under 10 to walk without supervision, yet finding reliable supervision can be challenging, particularly for low-income families.

“One of our big concerns, especially for elementary school children, is walking on the street,” Corinne says. Last year, in neighboring Prince George’s County, Md., two children ages 5 and 10 were killed after being hit by a van as they walked to school, despite adult supervision. “The danger became more real to me then,” says Corinne. “I read the statistics, and I see it in print, but when it’s children who are not far away, it becomes more real. We have to fight for them.”

Corinne’s profession has advocacy built in. “Children are considered a vulnerable population,” she says. “If you become a pediatrician, you care about children in general. You should be advocating for your patients and for the children in your community.”

Neighbors for Buses’ petition to the school board was successful. “We got about 1,000 kids back on school buses through our advocacy efforts,” Corinne says. And her organization continues to advocate for more children to be included on school buses. “We believe that safe transportation to and from school should be a priority.”

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