Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The bus issues continued

I wish I could say we had resolution, but no such luck.  After one day, the bus showed up nearly 1/2 hour early today.  I've been told that the Office of Pupil Transportation is at the school this morning and that they are going over all the routes yet again.  We'll see...

Dear Mr. Scarpa,

I was hoping that I would not have to write to you again, but it appears that we still have a bus issue.  I've seen the papers and I realize that I am not the only person, which frankly is more troubling than if I was a singular case.

Mark Jacoby called me on Friday to input my son, Kannon Peters (id# XXXXXXXXXX) into the system.  He told me to check the online system over the weekend to clarify the pick up time and route, as they were revamping this over the weekend.  I checked repeatedly, and he still was not showing up.

On Sunday evening around 6:30pm, we received a call from the bus driver giving us his name, cell number and pickup time of 7:55am and route number (XX X-XX).  This is still potentially a 1hr 20 minute bus ride, but it's certainly better than the 2hr 15min we were facing last week.  Yesterday, the bus showed up right on time.  My husband met the bus at the school and noted that it arrived at 9:09.

The way back was a different story.  Kannon did not arrive home until 3:56.  School ends at 2:15, so this would be close to 2 hours on the bus.  The driver explained that the school took a lot of time to load the children onto the bus and asked us to be patient as they get the routine down.  Although this seemed extremely long, we understand and are willing to keep trying for a few days until the kinks are worked out.

This morning as I was leaving the house at 7:29, our phone rang.  It was the bus driver who simply said, "the bus is outside".  Kannon was still in his pajamas finishing breakfast.  We had planned to wait in our lobby from 7:45 as we did yesterday.  The bus arrived
a full twenty-six minutes early!  The driver asked how long it would take us to get ready.  I find this to be outrageous.  Even if the bus arrived at school early, they do not start receiving children until 9am.  That is a minimum of 90 minutes, in borough, on the same side of the city a straight 60 blocks away.  We are not in Riverdale or in Bergen Beach.  We are in Manhattan below 96th! 

26 minutes to a toddler is tantamount to a lifetime.  It may not seem to bad to adults, but frankly, it seems long to me too.  I can understand if they arrive 5 minutes early, but to ask us to have our child ready a full 1/2 hour prior to his pickup time is ridiculous. 

The driver said they were early because so many kids were not riding the bus.  Fine, then start your route later, or wait.  Don't expect me to shove the rest of my child's breakfast down his throat, brush his teeth, get him dressed and out the door at a moment's notice.  Further, I'm sure that every other child on the route was not ready 1/2 hour early, either.

The stress that the busing situation has caused is quite literally making me sick.  You are risking parents' jobs by having these last minute changes, as well, not to mention the time spent on the phone during the day.  The worst casualty of all of this is the children.  Children with Autism thrive on consistency and routine.  What may seem like a small change to you can upend and entire day for a child with Autism.  The fact that the bus companies, the board of education and the drivers do not understand this is astounding.   My child was very upset that he couldn't take the bus this morning.  Great start to the day.

I expect to hear back from someone this morning.  I can be reached at
212-XXX-XXXX until 3:30pm today.  I will be calling Mark Jacoby directly and will do whatever it takes to have this resolved.  I would very much appreciate help from someone that can actually deliver, not just make empty promises.

Thank you,


an hour after this email was sent, I recieved the following response:

Hi Allison – sorry for the delay, but we are working to straighten out the transportation at Grammercy.  Please let me know if you don’t hear from someone within the next couple of hours. And thank you again for your patience.

Alex Robinson
Alexandra H. Robinson, M.Ed., CDPT
Executive Director, Office of Pupil Transportation
New York City Department of Education
44-36 Vernon Boulevard - 6th Floor
Long Island City, New York 11101

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