10% of Boston Bus Routes Fail on First Day of School

Boston Public Schools students found themselves stranded at their bus stops this last week as thirteen of 120 school bus routes from bus company Transdev did not run that day.

Parents then received an announcement that they should be planning on finding alternate transportation on the next day of school as well, reports Gail Waterhouse of myFoxBoston.  John McDonough, the interim superintendent of schools, said the school bus union had assured administrators that there would be enough workers to cover all the bus routes.

But not enough drivers showed up.  The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority offered free rides to students on the second day.

A union spokesperson stated that there was a problem with time calculation on the routes, which meant many drivers were getting impossible-to-manage routes.  There are also ongoing contract issues, according to Alysha Palumbo of NECN TV .

“What if you left your child there with the other kids to be picked up, you had to go to work so you leave your kid there, and now there’s kids sitting there all day, who’s going to be responsible if something happens?” Roxbury parent Dennis Smith said.

There may be other disagreements as well.

“They have some concerns around the four individuals that were let go last year, there’s a hearing on them and they’re moving through the process, but that’s no reason not to pick kids up on the corner of streets and that’s no reason to have the threat of a looming strike over our head,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Sara Morrison, Roberto Scalese, and Doug Saffir of Boston Globe Media Partners say that United Steelworkers Local 8751, Veolia, the company that runs the city’s school buses, and the city have several other ongoing tensions.

• Budget cutbacks in the school system

• A surprise strike last October because of grievances with Veolia

• The firing of  four drivers for instigating an illegal strike

• A union protest of those firings

The union’s contract with Veolia ended in June and a new agreement has not been reached.

Things went a little bit more smoothly on the third day, with many students being picked up for the first time.  Still, parents are being urged to have backup plans in place until a final deal is made between the bus drivers and the schools.  So far, only charter schools and special education classes have started the school year.  Now, the question is how will things go when all students begin school next week.

Meanwhile, in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, WTVD TV reports that on their first day of school, a school bus was rear-ended with about 30 students inside. There was a small amount of damage to the bus, and no students were hurt, but they were delayed going to class.  The report continues by reminding drivers to use more caution when approaching a school bus.  Some buses are now equipped with cameras which can take a picture of license plates so that a car passing a stopped bus will lead to a $500 fine and possibly time in jail.