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Monday, August 10, 2009

Bus Stop Times AND Stops

Called the Transportation Department (252-0900).

Notices are going out next Monday to families that will contain the following information:

-your bus stop with intersection and corner info
-time of pick-up
-number of bus route
-estimated time of drop-off at school

(No, I don't have any more information than this so do call them if you need other information.)

12 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Thanks, Mel!

ARB said...

Please call the school district if your child is scheduled to be on a bus for over 60 minutes to and/or from school. The district's regulations state that rides should be under an hour wherever feasible. Special ed students also have the benefit of a Washington Administrative Code saying the same thing. My 3 year old special ed kid was on the bus for 75 minutes each way over the summer and the transportation dept. didn't even bother to return my calls. It would make my life easier if anyone with a longer ride filed a complaint to bring this to their attention. Thanks!

Charlie Mas said...

The Strategic Plan calls for the District to adopt a customer service protocol. The new customer service standards were supposed to be piloted by the Transportation Department.

If you do not get a timely and appropriate response from the Transportation Department it not only reflects a failure in that department, but a failure of the Strategic Plan as well.

As such, it should be reported to the Superintendent and the Board. Contact them and ask them if the Transportation Department's service quality reflects the ambitions of the heightened customer service standards referenced in the Strategic Plan. Ask for an update on the customer service project including a timeline, detailed action steps, the name of the project manager and the name of the sponsoring executive.

Bureaucrats don't like it when you involve their boss.

Stu said...

I can't wait to see what the Lowell ride will be like this year. Of course, last year they moved to a community stop system to shorten the ride times; the travel time didn't decrease because we had to factor in the time it took to get our child the MILE from our home to his assigned stop.

stu

ARB said...

I really hope that you or other competent folks end up on the board-- I emailed all of the board members and two responded that I would hear back on the issue the following week. Nobody ever followed up and by this point it was the third week of a four week summer session.

So much for "customer service." If I can find the email I sent the board, I'll paste it into a follow up message.

ARB said...

This is a edited/shortened version of the message I sent the board from July to complaint about bus ride times. One board member's response is at the bottom-- promising a follow-up the following week that never occurred the despite a second "reminder" email I sent at the end of that week. It would be almost amusing in a twisted way if it wasn't my young child

Again, if you have a scheduled bus ride of over an hour for the fall, help me out by filing a complaint so that I'm not the only one asking for accountability on this...

---

Dear School Board members:

I am sorry to have to resort to contacting the school board to resolve my child’s bus schedule, but I have run out of options. I am writing for two reasons (1) to notify you that my disabled three year old daughter is expected to spend 75+ minutes each way on her bus during this summer session--and that is assuming that the route is being run with no delays (which has not happened to date); and (2) to let you know it has taken me ten days of calling the transportation office to learn that they will do nothing to make the trip shorter.

As for the first issue, the school district’s own guidelines state that a student should not spend over an hour each way on a bus. I believe this is a reasonable expectation for young children. ...

As for the second issue, my frustration over the bus situation has only increased due to the manner in which the transportation office handled the matter. The week before summer session started, as soon as I got her written bus information in the mail, I began calling the office. I was told the only person who could handle the matter would not be in until Monday, July 6—the first day of summer school. After calling on Monday morning, I waited for a response and got nothing. I called again later on Monday--after learning that the first person I spoke with had left for the day, and, indeed, the summer--and spoke to another person. Again, he told me he would get back to me but did not. I called back on Tuesday and received a message later that day from the transportation supervisor that he would try to shave 10-15 minutes off of her trip and he would call me back. After not hearing back on Wednesday, I called again on Thursday morning. I finally spoke with the supervisor, who only then said he could do nothing and he also accused me of “coercing” our driver to pick up another child first to help shorten the trip and said he could fire her. (I am not sure what he believed we were doing to coerce the driver, think she is doing a wonderful job, and certainly do not wish to jeopardize her position).

I have filed a written complaint with the office. It is under ID [deleted] with a date of 7/9/09. I appreciate you taking the time to read this email and hope it leads to better practices by the district’s transportation office.

---

Ms. Bearse,

Thank you for your email. I sent the email to our Chief Operating Officer (he is the boss of the folks not responding to you). If you don't hear back by Tuesday, let me know.

Stu said...

Aurora,

I truly hope that you get some response and, eventually, satisfaction. I know that another Dad on our route was constantly trying to get in touch with transportation and ended up giving up out of frustration. The routes to Lowell were so bad last year that, after the principal complained, that adjusted a few but, generally, moved them all 15 minutes earlier so that the buses wouldn't be late. They didn't fix most of the routes, they just moved them so they could say they were on time.

As has been written on these boards before, we had elementary school kids assigned over 1 mile and across 4 major intersections to get to their bus stops. This is against their own regulations and they couldn't have cared less.

Make sure that when you complain, and I hope you keep on them, you copy EVERYONE you can think of with the communication.

When we get our son's schedule, I'll post it here.

stu

Josh Hayes said...

I'll be interested to see what they project for AS1 buses -- busses? Bussi? -- since we no longer share them with Summit. Couple that with moving our start time 50 minutes earlier, and I figure we'll have to catch the bus about 35 or 40 minutes earlier than previous years. But we'll see.

h2o girl said...

Thanks for calling them, Melissa.

ArchStanton said...

It will be interesting to see if they implement the community/cluster stops at the beginning of the year. It does seem to violate their policies re: distance and crossings as Stu describes, but it was a benefit to our family when it was finally implemented in February. I guess it all depends on whether they decide to put a stop in a place that is convenient for you. Probably they need to revise their guidelines if they continue to implement this.
-----------------------------------
For those of you getting your transportation ducks lined up, the transportation contact info I have from last year is as follows:

The general transportation dept. email address: transdept@seattleschools.org

The Transportation Manager, Tom Bishop: tabishop@seattleschools.org

And another person in the transportation office that Lowell Principal, Julie Briedenbach contacted first, Gail McDougal:
gmmcdougal@seattleschools.org (I don't know how things work there, she may be assigned to specific schools or clusters, but I believe she works under Tom Bishop)
-----------------------------------
I don't know if Stu and I shared a route, but I was an involved dad. The experience of parents on our route was that emails and phone messages to Transportation went largely ignored - not even so much as an acknowledgment. (gets me steamed thinking about it) The principal didn't seem to have any influence. It wasn't until some parents started emailing Robert Vaughn (APP) as a group that we felt like we were even heard. IMO, it wasn't until parents on our route started threatening a sit-in that changes were implemented - February - it was that bad.

I'll echo Stu; If your route is really bad, start emailing everybody and cc the parents on your route, so they can back you up. Get the parents on your route organized and make it clear that you are not just one squeaky wheel, because they will ignore you.

Finally, if you are new to sending your kid on the bus; expect it to take from two to four weeks for the drivers to get sorted out and the buses to run anywhere near on time (whether or not the route is reasonable). We plan on driving at least the first two weeks.

Stu said...

Anyone get their bus assignments?

stu

ArchStanton said...

The bus info is finally available. Call Transportation 252-0900 and go through the phone menus. They say you should get your letter by Friday, Sept. 4th.

Based on my child's stops, it looks like they are not using the community/cluster stops. The ride times are around 30 minutes both ways, which seems very optimistic, unless the routes are small and use smaller buses.

I am looking at the scheduled arrival time 20 minutes before start time (Lowell) and skeptically assuming that they gave themselves 20 minutes to fudge the numbers with. On paper it looks like your kid has a 30 minute ride and arrives with 20 minutes to play and socialize - in reality it will probably work out to a 45 minute ride and 5 minutes to play, or worse.