Lakeshore News Tonight

This article underwritten by: Renetta DuBose

Gary School Buses Still Not On Time

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Waiting for the bus pretty much wraps up how some parents and students have spent their first week of school in Gary Community School Corporation.  That’s because they said the bus has been late.

“Really late!  Yes, it’s been more than ten minutes.  In the morning it has been really late.  In the afternoon it has just been chaos because a lot of the children don’t know their addresses, don’t know where to get off. That’s holding the bus drivers up,” said Mari Alexander, a parent at Banneker Achievement Center.

Alexander said her second grade student’s transportation aboard one of the 11 buses Illinois Central School Bus runs at Banneker has been straightened out, but principal Sarah Givens said more parents are having problems.

“We’ve had buses not to show. We’ve had parents on the route and no one is there.  We’ve had kindergarteners left without an adult being there,” said Givens.

Other parents have become frustrated to the point where they now transport their own children.   While Givens has been working as a liaison between the bus company and concerned parents, Student Transportation Coordinator Milton Patch said the problems are isolated.

“It’s not as many [problems] as people would want folks to believe.  Yes, we have some missed stops.  We have more of an on time performance in terms of getting to kids. For those individuals who were registered in July, we haven’t had many problems with them,” Patch said. 

Parent Nina Ellerbe registered her seventh grade child in mid August, after the July deadline.  She said her concern is the company’s drop off locations. 

“It would have been great if over the summer people would have drove the routes to see where the safe spots are in the area because one of the stops is 49th and Rhode Island and that’s not the best place for kids at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  It isn’t the best,” said Ellerbe.

Patch pointed to overcrowding on some buses, which has about a 52 person capacity when there are two students per seat.  He said Illinois Central is making changes to address that problem. 

“The volume of people we had to process who were late in August, what that has done is packed our buses to 80-85.  We’re in the process now of splitting those buses so that, for example, where we had one school that was listed for ten buses we need to add four more buses.  That’s how you reduce the overload and make the on time performance better,” Patch said.

Alexander said parents can help the situation by making sure their child knows his or her address and a working phone number or has the information written down in their possession. 

“I think they’re getting the kinks worked out quicker than they did last year,” Ellerbe stated.

After the Labor Day holiday, Patch said new routes will go out to all schools to help those buses that are packed with students.

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