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Day 3 of bus issues in Omaha, board frustrated

Posted at 5:47 PM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 18:47:31-04
Omaha Public School bus issues are getting worse.
 
Communication problems and lack of accountability within OPS is exacerbating the problem, Omaha School Board members say.   
 
Parents across the city continue to have problems with delayed buses, busses not arriving and kids stranded after school.
 
School Board members say they are frustrated because they weren’t made aware of the issue until recently.
 
"It’s really important when we have any kind of issue like this that there's a clear communication plan to the board, to the public, to the parents and to the media," said Marian Fey, District 3.
 
While the district is working hard “behind the scenes” to fix staffing and route issues, Fey said lack of communication to parents and lack of accountability is making the problem worse. 
 
“There is always someone to blame,” Fey said. “It's not hard to point fingers and blame, but really it's the district that needs to take ownership.” 
 
District 2 Board Member Marque Snow agrees.
 
"Lack of communication makes it even worse,” Snow said. “Especially when you can't really have that honest communication that is coming forward and explaining what went wrong and how it's being fixed and what are the next steps moving forward.”
 
Snow says he can't tell constituents how to plan for more problems because the district hasn't told him what’s causing the issue or when it will be fixed.
 
"It’s embarrassing not being able to tell my constituents what’s going on or how to plan around the problem,” Snow said. “Calls are very severe to the point that it's not just in one area, it's not just in one elementary school. It's not just one middle school, it's various. And you're hearing about this one parent or grandparent calling about, not just one kid, but 10, 20 kids and a bus stop that weren't picked up.” 
 
The district wrote in multiple emails that they're doing everything they can to resolve the issue, including working with their contractor Student Transportation Inc. 
 
Student Transportation emailed KMTV, writing that the problem is rooted in a national school bus driver shortage, and they have a number of drivers in training "in the pipeline."
 
Here’s the full statement from Student Transportation Inc.
 
We understand and acknowledge there have been some service disruptions which happen at school start up. 
 
Please be assured we are working very hard to ensure all routes are covered as soon as possible. The safety and security of our passengers is our first responsibility. 
 
The student transportation industry is experiencing certified school bus driver shortages nationwide. Our company is feeling the effects in this location in particular. 
 
Additionally, we are dealing with new regulatory requirements mandated by the State of Nebraska for school bus drivers, which have lengthened waiting time required to certify a bus driver coming out of training. 
 
We do have a full pipeline of potential drivers currently in training and awaiting testing. We certainly welcome additional folks from the community who would like to join our family of operations. 
 
We realize that some parents and students may be inconvenienced and we ask for and appreciate everyone’s patience while we continue working around the clock with OPS and other officials to rectify this situation. 
 
We are making substantial progress daily as well as bringing in additional resources to further minimize the issue. We are committed to resolving this as soon as possible and are confident that we soon will return to the excellent service levels we have shown over the past three years.