IT is sad that it took yet another horrific motor vehicle crash with multiple loss of life for all stakeholders to finally act on the long-held realisation that the situation couldn't continue.
By whatever means necessary, there had to be an orderly bus system for the hundreds of children travelling long distances to and from Holmwood Technical High School in Christiana.
Better late than never, we say. We say thanks to those, at all levels, who have finally acted.
And, as was repeatedly said at last week's memorial service at Holmwood, if the lives of those students who died on September 25, and others from that school who were killed or maimed in other bus crashes in recent years, are not to go in vain, this attempt at order must not fail.
It will be incumbent on the school's administration, parents, community leaders, political directorate, police, drivers, et al to make the project work.
Further, we are at one with all those who have recognised that this can't be only about Holmwood Technical or schools in Manchester. All across Jamaica there are students being asked to travel unreasonably long distances in ill-fitted buses and taxis driven by thoughtless, careless men, doing a poor imitation of responsible adults.
We urge the Ministry of Education, schools, parent/teacher and past student bodies, political representatives and community leaders to treat the current transport project in Manchester as a pilot. It should be followed on an islandwide basis for the good of our children.
Also, we dare not ignore the recommendation of the South Manchester member of parliament and Speaker of the House Michael Peart. As he has repeatedly said over many years, the ultimate, long-term solution must be to get students travelling to schools closest to them.
Prejudices, and in many cases legitimate concerns about the quality of some schools, mean Mr Peart's solution won't come overnight, as he himself has conceded. But it must be the way to go.
Efforts by the Ministry of Education to improve the standards in 'new' high schools must be accelerated in order to assure parents that standards in all schools are at the required level.
Also, it seems to us, parents need to abandon the elitist school-tie prejudices that in many cases result in stressful and expensive long-distance travel for their children.
Likewise, the technocrats in the Ministry of Education and the leadership of 'traditional' high schools should consciously resist the temptation to scorn children with lower grades at the grade six and grade nine levels. That scorning, we submit, also contributes to children with low grades being bussed far away from home.
What's needed is a properly integrated educational system aimed at benefiting all of our children; not just the high achievers at grade six level.
Culture and history mean the ideal won't be achievable overnight. But as a nation we must all strive with might and main to get there.