Tampa students take special shuttle for first time today

Tampa, Florida — Middleton High School freshman Elijah Collins normally has to walk across busy Hillsborough Avenue every day to get to school.

Now, after his first shuttle ride home to Meridian Point Apartments, he says it's a godsend.

"I just feel like it's safer," he says. "I don't gotta worry about walking back and forth across the street or trying to possibly not make it across the street."

Now, instead of having to make a life or death decision every day, students from Meridian Pointe and the surrounding area will be able to take a safe ride on this bus, at least until the end of the year.

"We've got to get them thinking, 'I can go down to the corner, I can take the bus,' but the best option is not to run across Hillsborough Avenue," said Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

That's an option freshman Crystal Iturralde says she's faced every day this year -- except today.

"I don't have to have stuck in my head that something might happen to me," she says. "That I might get hit."

The shuttle service to Meridian Pointe Apartments is a $250/a day response by Hillsborough County schools after two Middleton students were hit and killed crossing the street in the past two years. But acting Middleton High School principal Kim Moore says the shuttle is only one piece of the puzzle to keep kids safe.

"Putting in crosswalks, lowering the speeding limit to complement what we're doing, with education to compliment the bus the district has provided" are part of the combined answer, she says.

All of those suggestions Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said he will do with money from Tampa's red light cameras, so we don't see another tragedy along Hillsborough Ave.


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