The NYC Council has held a joint oversight hearing Monday on the Department of Education’s handling of transportation.
School is two months in, but many say the bus system is failing.
Parents have raised complaints about the unresponsiveness of call centers when trying to track buses as well as concerns over the obstacles students with special needs face when using the bus.
“October 2022 saw the highest number of delays in any single month in last five years, surpassing 14,000,” said Council member Rita Joseph.
“Our school bus system has been plagued with problems, many delays, 350 buses are delayed every day,” said Council member Gale Brewer.
Parent Aracelle Pereza said her 8-year-old son, who is deaf, once spent six hours on the bus.
In fact, 65% of the 150,000 students who ride the school buses are students with special needs.
There are also several thousand who live in shelters and are in tenuous situations. For them, being in school is vital, which is why Council members want more accountability from those overseeing the buses at the DOE.
“This year we started with a deficit of 500 drivers systemwide, this means to get students to school, we had to double up routes with vendors asking drivers to drive two routes in succession,” said Office of Public Transport Executive Director Glenn Risbrook.
That resulted in buses arriving late and they are still short 350 drivers even now.
Officials acknowledged that work still to be done.
The city said it is working to hire nurses for routes that serve kids with disabilities. It is also working to roll out an app with the company Via to be able to track buses.