Tampa, Florida -- Students are trying out a new way to get to Middleton High School Monday. A special shuttle bus is taking them to and from the Meridian Pointe Apartments.
School leaders started the service after several Middleton students were hit trying to run across Hillsborough Avenue.
From the entrance of the apartment complex, you can see the lights above the fields at Middleton High in the distance. It seems like just a short walk away.
But between kids and their classes -- six lanes of busy traffic zip back and forth.
Monday is Day One of the experiment.
Seventeen Middleton High students started out on a short shuttle bus ride instead of a life-and-death sprint across the street. There are crosswalks near the apartments, but they're a several-minute walk away.
In the past three years, three Middleton students who decided to run for it, instead of going to the crosswalk, were hit by cars.
"Our students are used to getting up and going across and taking the shortest route to the school," said MaryEllen Elia, the superintendent of Hillsborough County's schools.
"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.'"
A full-size bus cannot fit into the apartment complex's entrance, Elia said, and the smaller shuttle was ready to start right away.
"I don't have to wait to cross the street, and I don't have to worry anymore," Middleton student Jean-Renold Misselin said before he stepped onto the shuttle bus Monday morning.
Michael Hadley owns the shuttle bus company, Sable One Transportation. He says he was so worried about the kids, he was going to volunteer to make the two runs each morning and afternoon for free. Instead, Hillsborough schools will pay him $250 a day through the end of the school year.
This summer, the district will look at whether to keep the shuttle going, or try some other idea to prevent another nightmare.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has also promised to improve Hillsborough Avenue itself. He's planning to take money from red light camera tickets and spend it on re-timing traffic signals, improving signs, and installing dozens of street lights along the road.