Tuesday morning, Malik Heath, a junior economics major and Aggie Spirit bus driver, packed a record 118 students, two guide dogs, seven visitors, and three Texas A&M University Athletes™ onto his bus. He is scheduled to receive an award from Transportation Services for this remarkable feat.
Heath typically drives the Route 6 12th Man bus, a popular mode of transportation for avoiding the 12 minutes of walking it takes to get to Wehner High. His stop at the MSC drew a sizeable crowd, a challenge most bus drivers would shy away from. Heath though, came up with a unique method of jamming patrons into the vehicle.
He credits the “Push and Shove” technique he learned in his training. Tenured bus driver and Senior RPTS major, Adriana Li, told The Mugdown before the award ceremony, “We all learn the basics: ask people to take their backpacks off, tell them to get into two lines, sound impatient, the usual. But this… this is unprecedented.”
Student accounts of the record-setting ride suggest a break from the typical backpack removal and two-line approach. Heath called on couples and close friends to sit on one another’s laps. He had students remove and leave behind their backpacks before ever getting on the bus, and placed patrons individually into three lines.
“I can’t take all the credit,” Heath said in an interview. “The bus driver ahead of me left as the break between classes began. I had no other options.” His venture took 15 minutes, delaying only 75 percent of the riders, another impressive feat. Transportation Services plans to award Heath for his ability to maintain the timeliness and order for which Aggie Spirit buses are so well-known.
At time of press, Transportation Services announced a plan to implement the Heath Method, for off campus routes, beginning with Route 12, where they will cut down to only two buses.