Students forced to walk to school through dangerous neighborhoods say district should provide bus passes

SEATTLE -- Students in the Rainier Valley say the school district needs to do something to make it safer for them to get to and from school. Right now, many of them are walking up to two miles each way through dangerous neighborhoods.

Rainier Beach High School students say their walk to school isn’t safe. So they’re fighting to make sure everyone gets to class.

Ifrah Abshir says last year she had to walk nearly two miles to and from school.

“I was lucky, I have sisters who go here, so we did the walk together,” she says. “I have heard stories of students being mugged or catcalled.”

Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell agrees students shouldn’t be walking through some parts of south Seattle.

“We’ve had several bad incidents. So even though our crime rates are down, kids don't feel safe.”

Ahlaam Ibraahim says she gets nervous walking along busy roads like Rainier Avenue, where there is a history of car accidents.

“It’s me, my sister and my cousin, so it's just three girls walking. We're pretty short and small, you can't see us. We're on these hills, it's really dark at times.”

Students are asking city and school officials to provide Orca cards for the bus, so they don’t have to walk the streets to get to school. Right now, Orca cards are only given to high school students who live more than two and half miles away.

Rainier Beach students say most families in their neighborhood can’t afford to buy their own bus passes. It costs $3 each day, or $54 a month.

“We didn't have the money to get us all Orca cards on our own,” says Abshir.

“There are a lot of students who can barely afford their clothes,” adds Ibraahim.

Harrell says he’s listened to the students, and is trying to come up with a way to help.

“There’s always a lack of funding, but this is where the city and school district can work as partners as they should.”

Safety isn’t the only issue students brought up at a town hall meeting Thursday night. They say if they knew they could take the bus each morning, they’d also be able to get more rest, concentrate better in class, and participate in more after-school activities.