Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Week of Missing the Bus

Image from WPClipart.com

We've been missing the school bus for over a week now, but not the way you think! At school registration on Wednesday, 8/7/2013, the school had copies of the bus routes available for parents. These bus routes were printed from the school transportation website, date and time stamped 8/5/2013 10:19 AM. That sheet showed the pickup time for our route/bus/stop as 6:50 AM.

On Monday, 8/12, DH and Luke arrived at the bus stop at 6:45 AM for the first day of school. They waited until 7:20 AM. No bus came by. We took Luke to school, hoping it was a "first day of school" glitch of some sort. These things happen. We were a bit annoyed, but we assumed everything would be fine the next day.

On Tuesday, 8/13, we still thought our pickup time was 6:50 AM, but I was concerned that the bus might be coming early, so I stood at one of our front windows starting at 6:35 AM. We live next door to the bus stop, so I am able to see vehicles as they drive past. I saw no bus come by while I stood at the window. DH and L arrived at the bus stop at 6:45 AM. They waited until about 7:10. We took Luke to school, where we ended up directly behind our bus in the drop off line. At 8:45 AM, I called the phone number listed on the school transportation website. While on the phone with Ms. S, I viewed the bus route/schedule on the website to make sure nothing had changed. I saw then that the pickup time for our stop had changed to 6:42 AM. I told her that it is possible that we had missed the bus due to the pickup time change, but I also explained that I waited at the window looking for the bus starting at 6:35 AM, and I never saw the bus come by. Ms. S said that someone would follow up with the driver to make sure the bus came by our assigned stop on Wednesday, 8/14.

On Wednesday, 8/14, we now know that the scheduled pickup time for our stop is 6:42 AM. DH and Luke arrived at the bus stop at 6:40, a bit later than we intended. I did checked the school transportation website for any bus delays, and our route/bus was listed as on time. They waited until 7:00 AM. No bus came by. I understand that we had possibly missed the bus if it was running a little early, so I did not call to complain. However, I suspected by now that the bus was not actually coming by our assigned stop at all. But, before calling to complain yet again, I felt I need irrefutable proof.

On Thursday, 8/15, I personally sat outside waiting for the bus starting at 6:15 AM. DH and Luke arrived at the bus stop at 6:35 AM. I checked the school transportation website for bus delays; one of our school's buses was listed as delayed, but it was not our bus/route. I continued to check the website for delays every 5 minutes until 7:00 AM; our bus always showed as on time. At 7:00 AM, DH took Luke to school, while I continued to wait outside at the stop, just in case the bus did come late. I waited until 7:15 AM. No bus came by. I had personally waited from 27 minutes before our assigned pickup time to 33 minutes after our assigned pick up time. At 8:20 AM, I again called the phone number listed on the school transportation website, and I again spoke with the same Ms. S from Tuesday. This time, she took a message with the details of the situation, including my name and cell phone number, and said she would give them to a supervisor. I was told the supervisor would investigate the matter and get back to me. No one ever called.

On Friday, 8/16, DH and Luke arrived at the bus stop at 6:30 AM. They waited until 6:55 AM. No bus came by. When I took Luke to school, we arrived at the school at 6:58 AM, where again we were in line directly behind our assigned bus. If it hadn't been raining cats and dogs, I'd have gotten out right then to talk to the bus driver, but I didn't need to get wet, and I didn't want to hold up the school drop off line. At 7:55 AM, I yet again called the school transportation phone number, this time speaking with Ms. A. I explained to Ms. A that this was my third call this week regarding the bus not coming by our assigned stop and requested to speak to a supervisor; no, I did not want to leave a message. Ms. A provided me with the name and direct phone number of Ms. H, the supervisor for our route/bus. Ms. A also stated that she would email Ms. H with the details of the situation. Ms. A said that if I did not receive a phone call, I should call her back personally, and she gave me her direct number also. I did call supervisor Ms. H at 8 AM; there was no answer, so I left a voicemail message that included the name of the school, the bus route and number, the fact that I do not believe the bus has come by our stop any day this week, and my name and return phone number. As of 3:30 PM, no return call had been received from Ms. H or anyone else. I called Ms. A back, per her instructions; there was no answer, so I left a message.

On Monday, 8/19, a full week after the first day of school, Luke and I arrived at the bus stop at 6:30 AM. We waited until 7:00 AM. No bus came by. I took Luke to school. I called supervisor Ms. H at 8:20 AM. Again, there was no answer, but this time, I did not leave a message. Instead, I sent an email with all of the above details (a single paragraph summary, plus the above with a few more details (names, numbers, etc)) to supervisor Ms. H, three second level supervisors (since I could not tell from the website which one Ms. H reported to directly), and the director of school transportation, copied to the principal and assistant principal of Luke's school. Here is my closing paragraph:
"For six days, no bus has come. For three of those days, I have left phone messages and/or voicemails that resulted in no return call and no resolution to the issue. For six days, I have had to take my son to school, causing me and/or my husband to be late to work each day. This is unacceptable. I expect someone to call me back today, Monday, 8/19/2013, before 4:00 PM and let me know what the resolution is to this problem. I can be reached via cell at ### or via my direct work number at ###. If no follow up call is received, I will contact the superintendent tomorrow, Tuesday, 8/20/2013. Please contact me if you need any additional information. Thank you for your attention to this matter."

I pushed "send" on that email right at 9:00 AM Monday morning. Like magic, my phone rang around 10:30. It was one of the second level supervisors. I was assured that this was the first he had heard about the problem. He would personally be in contact with supervisor Ms. H (I had left a voicemail for her on Friday, remember?), and one of the two of them would contact me before 12:30 that day.

At 11:30 AM, my phone rang again. This time it was Ms. H, saying this was the first she had heard about the issue. She said that she had not actually seen my email because she had (ironically) been in a meeting at my son's school all morning. She only knew about it because she had a phone message from her supervisor when she left the meeting, and he filled her in over the phone. She did not want to wait until she got back to the office to return my call (worried about that 12:30 deadline, I suspect), so could I please recap the story for her. I did, and I explained that I was perplexed as to how this could be the first she had heard about the issue, considering that I had left messages with the main number for her on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and I had personally left her a voicemail on Friday. "Well, ma'am, I am out working issues on the routes until about 9AM, and then I am back out on the routes by 1PM, so if you left me a voicemail after that, I haven't been in the office yet to get it." No, actually, I left you the voicemail at 8AM on Friday, and that still doesn't explain why the two messages I had left via the main number on Tuesday and Thursday had also gone unanswered. There was a lot of "um, uh, er" coming from her at that point. She simply reiterated that this was the first she had heard about the issue, but that we would get it resolved today (Monday, day 6 of school). Ms. H said she had tried to reach the bus driver before calling me but had not yet spoken with her, but she assured me that one of them would call me back that day.

At 12:30 PM, my phone rang for yet a third time. It was the bus driver, Ms. B. "I'm sorry, I haven't been going by that stop. The sign at the other end of the street says it's a dead end, so I thought I'd get stuck. I asked the kids at that stop if there were any other kids on the road, and they said no, so I just didn't go down there." So wait, let me get this straight. Instead of contacting your supervisor with your concern that one of your assigned stops was down a dead end road where you feared you would be unable to turn around, you instead chose to take the word of some elementary school students as to whether or not you needed to drive past a listed stop on your assigned route? Really?!!

I explained that yes, the road does dead end, but only after there is another road to turn on. The assigned bus stop is just before that turn. I can see it from my house. "Well, why don't I just pick him up at your house?" Because, if you do, then you *will* be stuck, because you will be beyond the road where you can actually make a turn! ::headdesk:: So please, just drive past the assigned stop. You can pick up my son, and it will be obvious what to do next to avoid the dead end.

"Well, if he rode in the afternoons, I could have just asked him where he lives, but he doesn't." Okay, #1: Not his fault he doesn't ride in the afternoons. If you were driving your assigned route, this would not have happened in the first place. YOU were the one choosing to skip stops. #2: Giving YOU, the bus driver, directions to his stop is not my 8-year-old elementary school son's responsibility. Either you should be figuring that out, or if you can't, there should be someone you can speak to at work who can help you with that, like maybe your supervisor. And #3: Even if he did ride in the afternoons, Luke himself would not have been able to help you! He is not the most observant child, and you come into the neighborhood via an entrance that we almost never use (there are four possible entrances). He would have had no idea how to get to our house from there, even if he did ride in the afternoons. He can recite his address, yes, but not give directions to it. Some other child might have been able to do that, but not mine. And oh yeah, see #2: Not his responsibility! ::snort::

So, after all of that, other than managing to get me in touch with the bus driver, who is it that *actually* solved this problem? I DID! Remind me again why there are supervisors, if all they are going to do is let the parent resolve the issue? I should have just gone to the school (or one of the other bus stops) and spoken to the driver directly. That would have solved the issue much sooner. But no, I chose to follow the rules, per the transportation website (if you have questions or concerns, please call this number), and this is what it got me! Makes me wonder some days why I am teaching my son to follow the rules, when all it ever seems to do is cause crap like this.

On Tuesday, 8/20, the seventh day of school, the bus finally came by our stop. It was 15 minutes past our assigned pick up time (and has continued to be 15 minutes late every day since), but it was there. I suppose that's all that matters (assuming it continues to arrive at a consistent time), but obviously, I'm still a bit upset about it.

Currently feeling: beyond frustrated!

1 comment:

  1. Personally, my recommendation is email the superintendent anyhow. I went thru something similiar - they were letting my kids out in the middle of an intersection to change buses.

    I talked to the head of transportaion who thought nothing was wrong with the idea. It took getting the super invovled to get the problem solved.

    Good luck.


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