By Laura Abruscato
Neighbors and acquaintances in Pacific Palisades have shared with Matthew Rodman that traffic around Paul Revere Middle School is markedly better than any time they can remember.
“There’s also been an enormous difference on the Sunset Corridor,” says Rodman, who is receiving a Sparkplug Award for his volunteer work with the transportation committee at Revere, coming up with various ways to reduce the number of car trips to and from the school daily.
As an incoming parent three years ago, Rodman met with Principal Tom Iannucci, who was then an assistant principal, in an effort to find ways to mitigate the traffic impact around the school, especially on Allenford.
The school formed a transportation committee, consisting of parents and administrators, that devised several ways to improve traffic flow at the school of 2,100 students.
Although some of the 450 students in Revere’s Magnet Program are eligible for LAUSD school buses, three years ago, there was only one parent-sponsored bus, which originated at Warner Elementary in Holmby Hills. Parents spent $10 a day to hire a yellow Tumbleweed school bus.
Rodman helped to expand this program and now almost 400 students ride seven parent-sponsored chartered buses to and from school, saving nearly 800 daily round trips by car. The school hopes to have 10 of these buses next school year.
“Parents have told me this has been a lifesaver for their family, reducing stress and making the difference between attending Paul Revere or not,” Rodman says. “Without the support of Mr. Iannucci, this never would have happened.”
The Tumbleweed buses stop at designated elementary schools in the San Fernando Valley, West Hollywood, Baldwin Hills and Westwood, as well as in several Palisades neighborhoods, including the Highlands, Marquez Elementary and the Palisades library.
Most buses make two or three stops and have two return trips in the afternoon to accommodate students who participate in after-school activities.
Revere has also partnered with Brentwood School on transportation issues and the schools meet regularly to discuss reducing traffic on the Sunset Corridor.
“We’re really blessed to have Matt,” says Principal Tom Iannucci. “He’s a conscientious parent who wants to make things better and safer for students at Revere.”
Rodman, a real estate executive, worked with the Big Blue Bus to create a bus stop directly in front of the school. BBB route #14, which used to end at San Vicente and Allenford, now extends to the Revere campus, and a new line, #43, comes up to the school from the Expo light-rail stop at Bergamot Station. MTA buses continue to pick up students directly in front of school in the afternoons.
Altogether, about 200 students now ride daily on public transportation. With the 400 on private buses, it means nearly a third of students are no longer transported by cars. Residents of the Alphabet Streets since 1998, Rodman and his wife, Rene, were active volunteers at Palisades Elementary. With sons Max, an eighth grader, and Spencer, a sixth grader, now both at Revere, the couple’s efforts are focused at the middle school, with Rene heading up the fundraising efforts.
Meanwhile, Matt takes his two sons to school each morning and then spends an hour in the front traffic circle, trying to keep cars moving as expeditiously as possible.
“As part of my efforts to understand the traffic situation, I started greeting students in the driveway with Mr. Iannucci and I never left,” says Rodman, who invites other parents to join the transportation committee. “The work that I do is a labor of love,” he adds.