Thanks, Rianne. Good work.
Bus stop vandalism a perennial scourge
By Rianne Pangelinan-Brown
The Public School System bus stops-concrete tin-roofed sheds that are usually painted a bright yellow-have become perennial targets of hooligans, who not only festoon the structure with graffiti but also subject them to various acts of vandalism.
The issue has prompted the Public School System pupil transportation division to air its concerns, particularly since it believes that the vandalism is being done by students themselves, who often linger at the bus stops before and after school.
PSS bus team leader Steven M. Pangelinan said that one of the biggest problem the pupil transportation division is facing is the vandalism and graffiti at bus stops that never cease.
“All summer last year, we went from bus stop to bus stop just trying to clean and paint them before the school year begins. But just halfway through the school year, most of them are already vandalized with all sorts of graffiti,” Pangelinan said.
He said that bus drivers “do the best they can” to clean and paint the island's bus stops, which they do during their breaks.
“Students need to know that these bus stops are not for anybody else; the bus stops are there for them,” Pangelinan said.
Beautify CNMI volunteer Angelo Villagomez agrees.
“If we don't have enough respect for these kids to even provide them with toilet paper, never mind the proper materials and tools for learning, how can we expect them to respect the rest of society? The kids wouldn't vandalize something they respected, so the trick is to get them to respect what is ultimately theirs,” he said.
Villagomez said the trick to it is to be diligent. “You have to just keep painting over the vandalism.”
“There is a bigger problem at work, though. Graffiti in itself is just a symptom of a much larger problem,” said Villagomez.
He said the lack of after-school activities may be one of the causes why students vandalize.
“If you think things are bad, just wait until school is canceled for two months. It's not just the schools, either. A lot of the vandalism occurs at night. Where are the parents?” Villagomez asked.
Pangelinan said some of the most vandalized bus stops are from 99 Cents Mart to Tanapag.
He said that, although a number of beautification groups, lawmakers, and the Department of Public Safety have all chipped in, “they [vandalized bus stops] still need a lot of work. They always need a lot of work.”
Pangelinan said the cash-strapped PSS depends on donations of paint and materials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as donations from community officials and beautification groups to maintain the bus stops.
Last year, the Marianas Visitors Authority donated $2,000 for paint that was used to paint over the graffiti.
Villagomez said, “The best way to make sure that a bus stop is never vandalized again is to have the kids that use the bus stop paint it. Let them paint it however they want.”
“Then they'll take ownership over the bus stop and they'll be the ones doing the policing,” he added.