The Bayport-Blue Point School District began its expanded bus service for the community on the first day of school, Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The expanded service comes from the passage of the 2022-2023 budget that included a child safety zone study that prioritized students not having to cross major roads or railroad tracks to have bus service (even if their home address was less than .25 miles from their school).
Parents reported a number of issues the first week, including some middle-school buses dropping off students over an hour late to the James Wilson Young building, stops being skipped, and some elementary students who were dropped off at the wrong bus stop on the way home.
One working parent said the bus came almost 45 minutes late, affecting her schedule at her place of employment. On another bus, parents reported that the students had to provide the bus driver with directions to their school destination.
While drivers are given the route ahead of time and are expected to do a “dry run” prior to the start of school, buses are not equipped with GPS or navigation systems.
The bus routes are developed utilizing a computer software program and finalized through an internal manual review by the transportation team to ensure optimal efficiencies.
The final routes are sent to the contractor by mid-August.
Students and their assigned routes must then be entered into the company’s management system.
A representative for the school district stated, “The buses should be at the buildings prior to dismissal,” but a parent said that her daughter waited over half an hour after the school day ended before the bus arrived.
After a flurry of calls to the school district, the school district, to the chuckle of some, accidentally sent out an email addressing the bus issues with “Good Af.”
The subsequent letter stated, “We are aware that there were several difficulties involving lateness and pickup and drop-off procedures at some of the bus stops over the course of the past two days… We have spoken to the bus provider to ensure that the problems our families have experienced, as well as our safety concerns, be rectified immediately and that enhanced service protocols be implemented across all bus routes.”
Robert Quinn, chief operating officer of WE Transport Towne Bus Corporation LLC, the company that has been serving Bayport-Blue Point School District for the past three academic years, said, “Historically, [at] the start of the school [year], transportation is subject to changes in times with traffic patterns and parents getting used to pickup and drop-off times. We are working closely with the school district to get some safeguards in place. We have our safety supervisors in the district going to different [pickup] spots, arrivals, departures, meeting drivers and coaching them on how to do their jobs more efficiently.”
One of the district principals rode a bus route to identify the causes of issues and Quinn said, “We believe we have it under control now. We have met with our bus drivers again over the past few days to make sure things get straightened out this week.”
There are currently seven bus routes and charter services (i.e. for athletics) being provided by WE Transport Towne Bus.
While parents were concerned with the issues and lateness to and from school, many also said they noticed improvements as the week continued and looked forward to a smoother experience the following week.
One parent said that while she did not need the bus services, she opted to utilize the transportation knowing that many other parents needed before and after care for their children because of the previous lack of buses after proposals for expansion had been voted down in years past.
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