Students at Taft High School say bus rides have been crowded and dangerous this school year, while North Side Independent School District officials said it is just part of the lengthy process of balancing loads on buses.
For Monique Zarate, a 15-year-old sophomore at Taft, and her older sister, 16-year-old Taft junior Maritza Zarate, riding the bus this school year has become an unwelcome chore.
They say their school bus ride to and from school has been a mass of sweaty humanity crammed into seats and the aisle.
They say it's been uncomfortable.
Gloria Zarate, their mother, said it is more than that -- it is dangerous.
"I really dislike it,” said Monique Zarate. “People come out from athletics (and) they're really sweaty and sometimes smelly. And it's just really frustrating."
At the end of the day, students on their bus are perhaps more relieved to get out the door than they are to be out of school.
At their stop alone, close to a dozen kids got off.
"It's been really, really full," Maritza Zarate said. “It's really loud. Today was frustrating because we're all, like, already hot and we don't want to touch anybody."
Their mom worries about what would happen in a crash.
"I'm pretty sure they're going to bump heads,” Gloria Zarate said. “I'm pretty sure somebody's going to try to move somebody out of the way and it's just going to be like a domino effect."
She said she complained to the district but was brushed off.
“It's not easy to be told, 'Hey, you know, this is what's happening: either your kids deal with it or they just don't ride the bus,'” she said.
Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said crowded buses are not unusual a month or even more into the new school year. He said parents and students should just be a little more patient.
"Parents need to be patient so we can balance the loads and give everybody a seat," Gonzalez said.
He said the district transports 65,000 kids each day and supervisors know some buses are still crowded. He said sometimes takes a while to get things right.
"We recognize that it's not the ideal situation in an emergency to have a crowded bus,” Gonzalez said. “We're doing everything we can as fast as we can to relieve the loads."
He said after the students complained about overcrowding, some riders were removed from the bus.
But the Zarates also took photos after that that show the situation still looks the same.
The district said with 800 buses running every day, balancing the loads can take time.
“It's a situation that's temporary,” Gonzalez said. “Please be patient.”
He said Northside is committed to getting every bus rider to school safely.