Second graders at Elmore Elementary School in Houston met with Buster the School Bus, a three-foot by two-foot by two-foot robotic school bus produced by Robotronics to learn about school bus safety.
A representative of the Houston Independent School District said Elmore was one of several school sites that Buster will visit over the next few weeks.
HISD's transportation team members were on hand along with Buster, which displayed his stop arm, flashing headlights and blinking eyes during the interactive presentation held at the school auditorium. Buster showed students how to behave before and after getting on the bus. Students were reminded to only approach the bus after it makes a complete stop and its red lights are flashing. Students were also advised to never play with emergency windows and doors on the bus and how to exit in case of an emergency.
"I like Buster because he can spin around and his doors can open," said second-grader Devin Jackson, a regular bus rider who helped his classmates cheer on the bus as it flashed its lights and winked its eyes.
"If there's a fire, we have to go out the door at the back."
The students were instructed to always behave on the school bus. Students that bully classmates, fight, name call or won't stay seated on the bus could be removed or suspended from riding the bus.
"Bus safety is very important, but it's hard to communicate the consequences of bad behavior on a school bus to students," said Elmore Assistant Principal Faith Fugit. "This gave them a chance to see and think about school bus safety in a different light."
Ashley Johnson, HISD's transportation safety investigator, told the students that riding the bus is not a priviledge, and if they don't behave correctly they could lose their ride.
"Our students need to understand the importance of respecting their fellow students when riding the bus and reporting bullying to the bus driver right away," added Byron Williams, the district's transportation training and support manager. "We want to keep this conversation going, so students can stay aware of what to do and what not to do on the bus."
HISD transports about 30,000 students to and from campus each school day across 900 routes.