Ever since I came to KIS, which was back in 2011, I have been riding the school bus to and back from school. Before I came to KIS, I lived a five minute walk away from my school so I basically paid nothing for transportation fees. Hence why it shocked my parents when they first saw how expensive it was to ride the school bus (you would think the fee is included within the tuition since it is insanely high-priced). Now, I’m sure the fees have changed (upwards) in comparison to six years ago, but let’s do some simple arithmetics here. The bus fee for the school year of 2016~2017 is 2,500,000 KRW. That multiplied by 6 is 15,000,000 KRW, which is the money my parents have been paying in order for me to ride the school bus for the past six years.
I could whine all day and night about this cost, but as it is a price all bus riders pay at KIS, complaining would pretty much get me nowhere. Besides, without the school bus, I have no other way of getting to school (as no sane taxi driver wants to drive us up the hill KIS is located on because of the morning traffic that takes ages to escape). In fact, I’m not even here to complain about this bizarre pricing. Rather, I’m here to question the fairness of the KIS bus policy.
Under the “Application for School Bus Service” google form found on the KIS homepage, the bus rules which “all students need to adhere to” can be found. Section B component i clearly states, “students must tag their RFID cards to board the school bus.” As it never explicitly states the specific time period this rule applies (before or after school), I’m going to assume it also includes the times we ride the late bus. According to the busing page found on the KIS homepage, KIS provides four late buses for students who stay at school after 3, due to drama practices, sports practices, and so on. However, recently, I’ve been noticing the after school bus that goes to Sunae, Jeongja, and Migeum that I always tend to ride frequently end up full. This is most likely because many students live in the area. Students used to have to stand and ride back when I was a middle schooler, but most recently, drivers have simply been bringing out new buses so that the students who couldn’t ride the original bus could still return home.
This got me wondering; would the after school buses truly overflow with students if only the students who were actually allowed to ride the buses rode them? Basically, I’m calling out the students who don’t pay a single won of the 2,500,00 KRW that myself and hundreds of other bus riders do, yet somehow justify themselves riding the after school bus, leaving many of us in situations of inconvenience. Sure, you still “pay” for your ride to school whether it be because you ride your parent’s car or taxi. But if I could get away with just paying for my ride to school instead of a round trip, why should my parents even bother to pay the 2,500,000 KRW? Surely, it would be smarter for me to do just as those who are breaking the rules.
This brings me back to the point made earlier about component i that is frankly, highlighted in red, further establishing that that rule is important. I’m assuming this rule was implemented in the first place so that they could differentiate who is allowed to ride the bus and who isn’t (ie: if you aren’t a registered bus rider, you cannot ride the school bus). At the beginning of the year, I was constantly reminded to tag my ID card when I got on and off my regular bus as well as when I rode the after school bus, and I do admit, that process got tedious and annoying after a while. However, I did get used to getting my ID card out. Yet now, I only find myself getting reminded to tag my ID card when riding my regular transportation bus and not when riding the after school bus. Taking advantage of this, students who do not pay for the bus rides began riding the after school bus again, and bus drivers don’t bother checking whether they’re allowed to or not. Why? Out of laziness? Because they know the students will probably make up some random excuse and still end up getting their way? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s probably a little bit of both.
As my opinion alone would probably mean nothing to the administrators, I decided to interview other KISians who ride the bus on what they thought about the status quo. I ended up getting quite a range of voices – those who didn’t mind, those who were mildly irritated, and those who were upright furious.
“Personally, I don’t really mind. But I do understand that it’s unfair and honestly it causes clutters pretty often. Especially on the more popular buses like the Jeongja one.” – Amy Choi (‘17)
“I honestly don’t really mind it when people ride the after school bus despite not paying for it. Who knows, maybe they really need that ride and they don’t have any other method to get home. But in the case that there aren’t any seats, I believe that it’s only fair that those who did pay for the bus service should get seats first.” – Erica Lee (‘17)
“To be honest, I would be angry because I’m paying for the bus and they’re just using it for free. But at the same time, I understand when people ride the bus for free after school because…a lot of teams act in groups and it’s so hard when a lot of people can’t ride the bus with them.” – Anonymous
“As a person who pays a whole lot for the bus fee to ride the bus, I honestly think it is unfair when people who don’t pay for the bus still ride the after school bus. Once in awhile is fine, but riding every single day is a different story.” – Anonymous
“I just think it’s really ridiculous that we have to bare having so many people ride our bus[es] when they don’t even pay for it. I understand that the bus rides are very expensive and it honestly isn’t fair for everyone to pay 2,500,000 won to ride a bus that’s probably only a 15 minute ride home, but it’s not fair that some people have to wait for extra buses since so many people are filling our seats when they didn’t even pay a single penny.” – William Lee (‘18)
I also received this interesting opinion that did change my perspective.
“I have mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I don’t really like the thought of my parents paying for someone else’s transportation- since that technically is what occurs in such an occasion. However, I do understand the struggles of transportation and that there are multiple factors that go into it- some parents have work and other students depend on public transportation in the mornings, and after a long day it can be really tiring to get back home.” – Anonymous
It is true that there is only one public bus station in front of the school, and after long hours of practice (whether it be for theater, music, or athletics), students will be annoyed to not be able to ride a form of transportation right away, not to mention, the closest subway station, which would be Sunae, is a very long walk away from the school.
We tried the ID card tagging system, and clearly, it’s not working out. It’s inevitable that someone will find a loophole within a set of rules; it always happens. Perhaps what we need is something different, because this “innovation” only took us so far. For example, a one-way bus ride option which is currently not available according to the KIS homepage. Or, bus drivers enforcing the ID card tagging policy at a higher degree. Either way, the situation we all are currently in is not favorable towards certain students who pay the bus fee. However, that is not to say that we do not have any sympathetic feelings towards those who ride the after school bus without paying, because they probably have their personal reasons for it. What could be done to solve this problem? We have yet to find out.
– Leona Maruyama (‘17)
Featured Image: Clare Kwon (’18)