The World of Menlo Transportation: Transportation Coordinator Explains Reopening and Her Job


Pete Zivkov

A student enters the Menlo Shuttle to the train station after school. Photo courtesy of Pete Zivkov.

Tatum Herrin, Staff Writer

As Menlo students return to in-person learning, transportation arises as an important concern. On account of these circumstances, Transportation Coordinator Janelle Walker has shared her new plans and insights for the school year. Walker’s job entails managing all the transportation to and from campus, including sporting events, field trips and every day commuting. 

An immediate worry for Walker during COVID-19 is bus transportation between the campus and the Caltrain station. Many students rely on the shuttle provided by the school to take them back and forth.

To comply with COVID-19 requirements, students need to be at least six feet away from each other at all times on these rides, raising a concern of available space. 

“Typically, our largest bus can hold 73,” Walker said. “We can probably get about nine or 10 on here now,” she added. As of right now, there is plenty of room for students to ride the bus. However, the current situation may not last. “If everyone who rode the train last year decides to ride the train, then we might have a problem with room,” Walker said. She is taking on obstacles as they come and focusing on the transportation happening right now.

Another major element of these bus rides are the drivers themselves. There are currently two full-time drivers at Menlo: Walker and a driver named Francisco. There are also three part time drivers: Oshana, Elsa and Sandy.

Initially, Walker was concerned that drivers would not be willing to work for fear of the coronavirus. However, Menlo bus drivers have been eager to get back behind the wheel. “None of our drivers are scared to start driving again,” Walker said.

“We’re all getting tested weekly, and so are the kids, and they’re all wearing masks on the trips, so no one’s worried about that,” she said. “And of course, temperatures are being taken and all that, so I’m confident in everyone’s health.”

In addition to organizing everyday transportation, Walker manages field trips. With the COVID-19 pandemic, whether or not field trips are a good idea has yet to be settled.

“It’s not really up to me if field trips are happening. I just have to plan it. As far as I know, the teachers will decide if the kids are going anywhere and where it is they want to go,” Walker said.

Walker has always enjoyed being part of the transportation at Menlo. “Over here in facilities, believe it or not, is the best and funnest place to work,” she said.

Walker started out as a part-time driver while working another full-time job at a school district. She always enjoyed traveling to interesting places with students. In fact, she enjoyed the job so much she even drives the bus once in a while now.

“People forget that when the kids go to Great America or the Boardwalk, the drivers get to go too. We always get in free, and we’re there,” she said.

Walker is proud of the work everyone in facilities does and feels valued by the community. “We are recognized all the time, and if it weren’t for us, the school wouldn’t be in the place it is today.”