In a heartwarming story from a middle school in the suburbs of Michigan, Kelsey McGovern’s 6th grade English class came together in a big way after learning their beloved teacher commuted two hours on three buses every day to get to Edgewood Middle School. Instead of surprising her with sweet notes or a birthday cake, the students surprised Ms. McGovern with the most heartwarming gift of all: better public transit infrastructure throughout the greater Detroit area.
“Mrs. McGovern is a great teacher so we wanted to do something nice,” explained Chelsea Sanchez, age 11. “So the class held a few bake sales, and after just a few months, we were able to present her with a comprehensive, functioning network of light rail rapid-transit buses, and even protected bike lanes.”
McGovern was shocked when she headed out to catch her first bus Monday morning and discovered a slew of new resources—like all-door boarding and bus only lanes—designed to reduce travel time and make the city more accessible to all.
“At first I couldn’t believe they were able to make a bus ride so fast,” said McGovern. “But then I saw that all they did was paint ‘Buses Only’ in one lane of the street. It kind of felt like someone should have done that sooner.”
Because McGovern’s second bus is on a high-density corridor with lots of commercial and residential destinations, the sixth graders quickly determined the area could support a more expensive light rail system.
“Not only will the new Blue Line help Mrs. McGovern get to work faster, it will drive new business to the area, promoting jobs as well as safe, livable streets,” said 6th grader Timothy Jones, age 12. “Plus, trains are fun. They go ‘boom.’”
“When I saw the light rail line, I thought the kids had gone too far. It seemed like too much,” remarked McGovern. “But then I realized that with overcrowding in our cities, not to mention the environment, a future relying only on the private automobile for mobility is simply unsustainable.”
“And Timothy has a point about the trains being fun,” added McGovern.
Despite the overwhelming love the students have for their favorite teacher, several students think the gift was a little over the top.
Added Sanchez with a shrug, “I hope in time my constituents realize that promoting alternate forms of transit is the only way to ultimately reduce car congestion.”
“I’m like, 11, and even I can figure that one out.”