Travel transition from bus to tube

Transportation to and from Canons Park will happen via train rather than bus for most soccer players. Athletics Director John Farmer decided it “would be worthwhile to pilot” the change from bus to tube.

Farmer asked the varsity boys soccer team to travel to and depart from Canons Park by tube on October 2, with the remaining boys soccer teams testing the change in transportation on October 8. On October 9 the entire girls soccer program started using the tube to and from Canons park.

Speed of the tube facilitates an earlier practice time, but on the bus there are opportunities to bond with teammates and complete homework, whereas both of those benefits are impractical on the tube. Kendal Fass (’19) wishes an opportunity to take either the tube or the bus is present. “It’s frustrating when we don’t have the bus or don’t have the option to take the tube or the bus,” Fass said.

As the tube is more environmentally friendly, faster and cheaper, Farmer sees the benefits of transportation by tube outweigh those of the bus. “To me, it feels like a no brainer,” he said.

While the environmental factor convinced Farmer to attempt the change, all factors, including efficiency of travel and finances impacted his decision. “I go up to Canons Park and I look at and see the number of people who don’t take the bus [home] and think we’re just throwing away money,” Farmer said.

Although the form of transportation was altered and the cost fell “substantially”, the Athletics Department’s responsibility to financially cover student’s transportation for sports remains. Students will be fully reimbursed if they highlight travel relating to athletics on a printed Oyster card log, calculate the trips’ cost and deliver the information to the Athletics Department.

John Carrafiell (’18) traveled to Canons Park by tube prior to the change even though few teammates joined him. “The main reason for me taking [the tube] up there and back home was that it was significantly faster,” he said.

When Claire Noel (’17) injured her ankle during a practice at Canons Park she returned to school on a Middle School team bus because no High School bus was present. She could not attend her team’s game against Cobham on October 14 because the injury prevented her from traveling by tube, which highlighted one of her many annoyances with the tube.

Easier access to the bus and an inability to complete homework constitute the main frustrations for Noel. “It’s really inconvenient more than anything and I feel like it’s going to present more problems in the future,” she said.

Should an injury occur with no buses present, Sports Facilities and Equipment Coordinator William Smeulders, who works at Canons park, would drive the student to school.

For safety purposes, the Athletics Department insists a team travel together to discourage students from crossing the highways when walking to Canons Park from its nearest station. “By virtue of going with the teams and their coaches, they are going to cross [the street] together as a whole group and to me student safety is the number one concern,” Farmer said.

Some time is wasted, Carrafiell feels, because the whole team must congregate after school before they depart to Canons Park. “I believe that the system could be improved further… if it didn’t have to be so structured such that we had to get on the same train,” Carrafiell said.

Though Farmer received preliminary feedback on the change he continued with the pilot, considering responses after the trial. Most teams continued with the change, though reaction from the varsity girls soccer team to Farmer were “very strongly in favor of reinstating the bus.”

The team now travels by bus from Monday to Thursday after Farmer considered the girls’ request. Feedback Farmer received expressed that the bus is a more relaxing environment to sleep and complete work.

On Fridays the team will travel by tube as Farmer feels both factors are mitigated because students have an increased opportunity to sleep and work on the weekend.

Other soccer teams will travel by tube unless Farmer is prompted otherwise. “I’m not changing [the transportation] until I have a good reason to do so, which would mean a lot of people saying ‘Hey, we don’t like it’,” Farmer said.

Regardless of any feedback Farmer receives this season, he intends to trial a similar transportation change in the spring because of the needs of spring athletes. “It’s just hard for me to picture that [this method of transportation] is not a good idea.”