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TJ Crew Boosters' President Summarizes Options for Transporting Rowers to Occoquan in the Spring

posted Nov 12, 2013, 3:39 PM by TJ Crew Webmaster   [ updated Jan 27, 2014, 1:21 PM ]

TJ CREW TRANSPORTATION DISCUSSION

 

During the 2014 season, the board anticipates there will be a lack of spaces in student-driven carpools to the river.   For the previous two seasons, there were enough upperclassmen with licenses to transport most non-driving returning rowers.  Before that (through the spring 2011 season), two buses transported all freshmen, sophomore and novice rowers.  Our bus costs, however, have nearly doubled since then.

 

It is important to find a fair and cost-effective means to get rowers to the river.  This includes examining how other crew teams get to their venues.  Our team has dilemmas unique to TJ: because TJ is not a neighborhood high school, a round trip bus is not practical.   Sharing a bus with another crew team is not a possibility because other nearby high schools dismiss earlier.  Additionally, populating a two-bus system to the river and then to two different end-point locations is unrealistic because TJ’s rowers are widely distributed in Fairfax County and the surrounding jurisdictions.

 

Following are the five possible FCPS-approved modes of transportation to the river from TJ:  

 

(1)  FCPS ACTIVITIES BUS.  

PROS:

(1) Very low cost.

CONS:

(1) Scheduling issues exist which are unique to TJ.   Dismissal times for rowers vary during the week.  Some days the students are dismissed during 8th period, and activities buses are not available.  The regular dismissal time is too late to ensure availability.

(2) Activities buses are unreliable because FCPS does not have enough activities bus drivers to meet demand.

 

(2)  PARENT CARPOOLS.  

PROS:

(1) Monetary cost is shared among participants.

CONS: 

(1)  Parent carpools are a huge administrative burden to captains and boosters because carpools are complex to form.  Complexity lies in the numbers: some cars can transport seven passengers, some four.  Some parents can drive one day per week.  Some will drive more often.  Some parents are not able to participate at all.  

(2)  Substitute drivers are hard to find.  If a substitute can’t be found, four to seven rowers may miss practice.

(3)  May require alternative forms of transport because of limited availability

(4)  Parents have to submit FCPS forms to participate in carpools.  These forms have to be collected and appropriately filed, which adds to the administrative burden of the boosters.

 

(3)  TAXIS.  

PROS:

(1)  Cost could be about the same as the 2013 season freshman bus ($455, without tip, over 13 weeks, assuming 6 rowers per taxi).  

(2)  Could be used in conjunction with parent-driven carpools.

(3) Chaperone not required. 

CONS:

(1)  Taxis will be an administrative burden to captains and boosters, who will have to organize groups of riders.

(2)  Parents will have to communicate with each other to contract with the taxi company for payment. 

(3)  Drivers may not be consistent.

 

(4)  SECOND BUS (PRIVATE CARRIER).  

PROS:

(1)  Carriers limited to FCPS-approved list.

(2)  After initial sign up, very little administrative burden for the bus coordinator during the rowing season

CONS:

(1)  Cost: roughly $25,000 for the 2014 spring season.

(2)  FCPS mandates that 54 passenger buses are the smallest allowed.  

(3)  Enrollment needs to be at maximum levels (@$25K, fare is $500 per rider, given 50 riders).

(4)  The number of registered rowers who are interested in a second bus will be unknown until registration closes. 

(5)  FCPS requires an adult chaperone on board.  Participants must provide the chaperone at least once.  Some will have to volunteer more.  During the spring 2013 season, a chaperone was missing for 20% of the trips.

(6)  Without a chaperone, the bus driver is in violation of FCPS regulations.  If any sort of incident occurs on the bus without a chaperone present, driver could lose his/her job.

(7)  Filling the chaperone spot adds to the administrative burden of the volunteer coordinator.

 

(5)  STUDENT DRIVEN CARPOOLS.

PROS:

(1)  Costs – student drivers accept donations for gas.

(2)  Student drivers are eager and available.

(3)  Team bonding: older rowers can mentor during the ride.

CONS:

(1)  Some parents do not want their child to participate in a student-driven carpool.

(2)  Substitutes are hard to find – what happens when a student driver is sick and can’t provide notice to his/her riders?

(3)  Students have to submit FCPS forms to participate.  These forms have to be collected and appropriately filed, which adds to the administrative burden.

(4)  Availability year-to-year is inconsistent  -- should be used in conjunction with other forms of transport.