Sound Off: Parents Call for Better Bus Transportation

IMG_6355Some Prince George’s County parents have expressed frustration with the inadequacies in the school bus transportation system. Here, seven parents share their stories.

My son’s school day ends at 3:40, but he doesn’t arrive at his after-school care facility until some time between 5:35 and 5:55, just a few minutes before I pick him up from after care at 6:00 pm. He doesn’t have time to do his homework during after care, and he is struggling in school as a result. In the morning, he either arrives late to school and misses breakfast; or he eats breakfast when he arrives to school 15-30 minutes late, thus making him 30-45 minutes late to class.

— Kari Fischer


My son is bused for his IB+Autism high school, but the afternoon bus a) takes 2+ hours and b) picks up 15 minutes before school ends! Missing a chunk of academics — Algebra, no less — to leave 15 minutes early each day to then sit for 2+ hours on a bus (when it’s a 15-20 minute drive) is unacceptable.

—Alex Antunes


We stopped trying to ride the bus after three weeks of frustration. We could never get through on the transportation hotline and all of my emails went unanswered by the transportation office. The bus was scheduled to arrive between 4:26 and 4:46 daily but typically left the school around 4:30 pm and arrived at the bus stop between 5:00 and 5:30 pm. My son started getting frustrated because his bus was so late to school in the morning that he missed the morning announcements and technology class. We simply gave up — no one even tried to address our concerns.

— Rashida T.


We live in Bowie. My daughter attends Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt. The bus is consistently late, causing my daughter to be late to her first period class. The teacher has started waiting about 10 minutes to start class because he knows the buses are notoriously tardy. This takes away from the amount of time that the teacher has for instruction in class. For the students who are unfortunate enough to arrive later than 10 minutes past the start of class, they just miss out.
This year I gave the bus for my son’s school a shot early on, but now I have chosen to drive him to his elementary school. The bus this year is not punctual. Maybe it will get better in a few weeks.

 

— Camilla M.


My daughter, a first grader at Dora Kennedy French Immersion, lives less than ten minutes away from her school. Her bus in the morning gets her to school in less than fifteen minutes. After school, my six year old would wait in the school gym for over half an hour to wait for her bus to arrive. After a full day and with homework to be done, my daughter was dropped at her bus stop at ten of five (almost an hour after dismissal!). This drop off time varied by over 20 minutes that week. Dutifully, I called the transportation office, but after a week of waiting and uncertainty, I now pick her up from school.

— Kate M.


My daughter is a kindergartener at the Spanish Immersion program at Phyllis E. Williams. For the first week of school this year we had a few transportation issues, which we equated to it being a new school year. We assumed that perhaps just like students the bus drivers would need time to acclimate as well.

However, by the second week, everything went downhill, the bus was late between 15 and 30 minutes daily resulting in my daughter getting to school late. School has been in session for a month and within this time my daughter has only been on time for school a total of 5 days. For a kindergarten student entering a new school program specifically at a Spanish Immersion School, this has been a nightmare. She arrives once the other students have already begun their daily instruction, which is completely throwing off her routine.

                       —Michelle Rose


During the 2015-2016 school year my daughter’s afternoon bus route was changed without any prior notification to parents. This resulted in the bus which usually arrived in Hyattsville around 4:45 to arrive after 6pm. All of the children on that bus, some as young as 4 years old, were in tears. From that day on the afternoon bus situation was a mess. It was taking them well over an hour to get the kids from Robert Goddard/GWES back to Hyattsville every afternoon. After a prolonged email and phone call campaign from a vocal group of parents the situation was sort-of resolved but their new afternoon bus was chronically late getting them from school every day.

The first week of the 2016-2017 school year our morning bus did not arrive at all. The second week it started coming but 30-40 minutes after it was supposed to be there, resulting in parents being stuck waiting for the bus until after 9am. Most parents work and could not possibly wait this long and then commute into work afterwards. After another prolonged email and phone call campaign the situation was sort-of resolved. The new bus which comes on time is small and over crowded, though. They are stuffed in there three to a seat.
 — Sarah Eisen
What has your experience been with the school buses in PGCPS? Sound off in the comment section below.

9 thoughts on “Sound Off: Parents Call for Better Bus Transportation

  1. Frustrated parent says:

    We always a count for some transportation issues in the beginning I’d rhe school year, but they usually work themselves out with in the first couple of weeks. Here we are over a month in a d we still can’t rely on our children’s morning bus. After numerous emails and phone calls we have given up and are now driving them. The bus in the morning is often 30 minutes late, and they miss thier morning message for the day. We were advised to wait 20 minutes o. Each side of the pick up time by the transportation yard. How are our children going to succeed when they can’t arrive to school in time to ensure thier needs are met. No one has answers and there appears to be no light in the end of the tinnel.

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  2. Keysha says:

    My daughter is a kindergarten at PE Williams Spanish immersion school.

    The bus is supposed to arrive @ 8:39. It is NEVER on time and we have had to rush out the door to meet it at 8:10 (resulting in not being able to pack lunch for that day) and as late 9:20 (which is 5 minutes after school starts). I was instructed to have her ride the bus because we live so far from the school (greenbelt) and potential tardies would not be excused if I drove her to school.

    It is unacceptable that my 5 yr old is regularly missing class time and is not able to get settled into a routine. All due to unreliable bus transportation.

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  3. Yunkyong Hill says:

    Am bus picks up my kids 8:15. They have to wait in front of the school, because they ate the first kids to arrive and school enterance is not open yet. I wish they rearrange the time, we can save some critical morning time. But I have no complain for the am bus.
    Problem is pm bus. It takes over an hour my kids get home after school is over – we live 10-15 min away from school. It just take too long. My kids hate to ride school bus. I can’t give them a ride everyday. It has been a huge stress for kids in this school year. It surely affects their school life.

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  4. Allison Harbuck says:

    My daughters Ortho bus has 4 stops in the morning and manages to be 20 minutes late everyday. I have to work and my other children need to get to school. The past 2 weeks I have had to load up the wheelchair and all of the kids to make sure the others aren’t tardy, I then travel to C. E. Rieg to drop off my daughter. I have to sit there until the buses unload before I can leave and I am late to work in the mornings. I had to make a choice, I shouldn’t have to. The driver states at the stop ahead of us the child refuses to get on, making her late. As far as I am concerned the driver needs to start 20 minutes earlier or swap my stop with the problem stop which is a street over. Transportation says they are short staffed and they need drivers, and will not consider swapping the stops. Yet, the afternoon bus with a different driver is on time each and every day.

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  5. mariagonzalesjackson says:

    At this point, I think parents need to rally together and demand that transportation be addressed. It boils down to offering competitive pay (just what was done for teachers), giving fewer routes that a driver takes (that is just commonsense) and GPS system that provides directions. Icing on the cake would be professional staff answering the phones in the transportation department. I say parents join together and organize boycott of bus transportation.

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  6. Barbara Morris says:

    Our busing problems are only going to keep getting worse as long as we keep advocating for more and more specialty schools, especially at the elementary level, instead of developing comprehensive schools in more cohesive areas so that school buses are not running all over like a taxi service. With 5,488 school bus routes in the County, it’s amazing that anybody gets anywhere.
    Barbara Morris

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  7. Anita Brown says:

    Bus driver left my 7 year old son, she saw him walking to the bus. My 15 year old daughter tells me her bus is extremely late picking them up. We are talking 20-30 possibly 45 mins some days. Repeatedly.

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  8. Wendy says:

    Tardiness and poor service is only one side of the problem. Many children do not have bus service at all. According to the county, my 7 year old should take a 30 minute walk, alone, in the dark to school each morning. And because there is no bus service for the entire school (which is also grossly overcrowded), all the parents drive and the school refuses to have any kind of organized drop-off procedure–which results in chaos and traffic backing up into the surrounding community. I pay for before care and transportation from a private provider, just to be sure my child arrives to school safely and I am able to get to work on time.

    The budget cuts and chronic understaffing have not only resulted in unfortunate tardies and missed learning, but have endangered many children who have to walk to school–because their families cannot afford to hire private transport or miss work to walk them to/from school. These children are left to walk (up to 45 minutes) on dark streets, past the homes/jobs of sex offenders, without sidewalks, facing unchained/loose animals. Imagine being 7 years old, starting your school day after a 30 minute walk in the dark and cold, fearing loose dogs and avoiding cars. The transportation office claims that they can make exceptions for dangerous routes to school; however, they do not have the staff or funding to do so.

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