OPS, STA explain bus issues but some still late

Posted at 5:22 PM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 18:33:43-04

Bus delays and no shows are problems that have been going on since the first day of school for OPS students and parents.  The school board held a special meeting Monday night to try tackle the issue, but some are still dealing with it.

Student Transportation of America and OPS give the board a timeline of the problems and what's being done to fix it.

OPS Transportation Director Trevis Sallis says on July 20 they told STA they had 476 bus routes because of changes in the walking distance, and 6th grade reconfiguration.  He says STA told them of the driver shortage two days before school started.

Since then OPS Special Education bus drivers have picked up bus runs, routes have been consolidated, and another contractor is driving some vans to pick up students.

"As you can see based off the initiatives that were put into effect, each day consistent coverage from OPS drivers continued to decrease the number of runs,” Sallis explained.  "I hope this week we will see the problems decrease dramatically."

Lilly Sutton, 3, is going to Early Development at Beals Elementary School because she has Septo Optic Dysplasia which causes her blindness.  So Lilly needs a ride on the special education bus that can handle a wheelchair to get her around.  Her mother, Emily Sutton, says at first no bus showed up.  When she called she was told the bus would pick her up 45 minutes late making her late for school, so Emily drives her and the large wheelchair herself.

"I've been looking forward to her going to school because I know she would get the help she needs while I'm at work, and yeah it's just been really stressful and it's not fair it really isn't fair at all," Sutton explained.

Since then OPS used Special Education drivers to cover up to 59 routes on a single day. August 25, only 2 Special Education drivers had to cover runs.

OPS and STA say only 9 routes are now late of the 433 total bus routes.

Sutton says she'd like to know when her daughter will get a ride on time every morning.

"I can take her to school every morning until they get it figured out but it's just again, what if I didn't have the car that I just got? She would've had to have been late every day,” Sutton concluded.

STA says they now have 61 people in the process of getting their CDL to start a bus route, but all will have to finish a 14-day waiting period.  They hope to consolidate 6 more routes.