It’s against Metro policy for employees to talk to reporters but drivers at Minnesota Avenue stop had plenty to say about the issue of safety and students on board.
"School kids they act up, they fight, and sometimes they get mad at you,” said Russell Ingram who was been driving for 30 years.
Drivers said students take up the whole bus sometimes leaving little room for other passengers, but that’s the least of their worries. Ingram is always ready to call Metro Transit Police if he feel someone is being threatened on board.
“First thing I do is pull over, secure the bus, and then call downtown and wait for Transit to give me direction," he said.
Sabrina Cue has been driving for three years and says the shield around drivers in the new buses do give her peace of mind.
“I’m not turning around so much,” she said. “Beside the students being loud but as far as violence I’ve never had any issues and I hope I don’t have any issues. It’s a concern because they act differently when they’re not with parents, so they have no guidance when they’re on the bus. They can do what they want and telling them things, you’re just talking because they’re not listening and when Transit comes. They’re not scared. It’s just like who can control them,” she said.
Metro does offer school routes to and from none of the District’s largest middle and high schools, but they are not exclusive to students.
While some drivers fear more kids on buses may lead to more problems, Metro says in the year D.C. students started riding for free (2015) assaults on bus drivers actually decreased 14 percent: According to WMATA's website: "Bus operator assaults were reduced by 14%, from 87 in 2015 to 75 assaults in 2016. At three Metrobus divisions, Four Mile, Shepherd Parkway, and Western, bus operator assaults were reduced by at least 50%."
However, a Metro spokesman says that number has since increased up 16% since this time last year.