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Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Letter to the Editor, RE: Boston Public School's Bus System

I have been in a battle with the Boston Public School Dept of Transportation since day 1 of school in September.
Max's bus has been late literally EVERY DAY since day 1 of school. I am serious. The bus has never been on time - well, let me rephrase that - the one day the bus was on time, there was a substitute bus driver.
I called the bus department every day to complain about this chronic problem, and received no call backs, no response, NO CHANGE! Bottom line - the bus is late an average of 16 minutes each day. This then creates the snowball - Louise is then 25 minutes late for her long 3 hour day, and I am an hour late to start my cook days.
An article ran in the Boston Globe on Feb 2nd which spoke to the "efficiencies" of the bus system - efficiencies??? The efficiency that was spoken to in the article was that the buses on average do 5.9 routes, back to back, per day. What the Transportation Director doesn't realize is that the multiple routes per day is what causes the buses to be late.
This Wednesday, Max's bus was 25 minutes late. I immediately got on the phone with the bus department and finally got someone who listened. It was the route coordinator. I told her about the chronic lateness of the bus, and the fact that I have called to complain almost every day. Her response? "Oh, I'm surprised, this is the first I've heard of it".
My god, I almost screamed!
She said she would look into it and call back.
Well, she did, and she told me that Max's bus is consistently late by 10 minutes to every school that he goes to!!!!!
One GIANT snowball.
Here is my letter to the editor (I wrote it and submitted it prior to talking to the route coordinator, and spoke with the editor regarding what I learned from the route coordinator):

The Boston Globe
System's efficiencies need an overhaul
February 5, 2009

RE "SCHOOL buses' vacant seats costing Hub" by James Vaznis (Page A1, Feb. 2): I couldn't disagree more with Richard Jacobs, transportation director for the school department, when he says, "We always strive to be more efficient, but I believe we do an excellent job, given the demands this city presents." There is nothing excellent about the job the bus system does.

The article cites a survey that found that Boston had the second-highest utilization rate, at 5.9 routes per bus per day, well above a national median of 3.9 routes. Some might boast that this represents efficiency, but this utilization rate causes my son's bus to be late every day, sometimes by five minutes, sometimes more than 30. This causes my daughter to then be late to her school, and me to be late for work, day after day. After multiple complaints to the bus department since the beginning of the school year, I finally spoke to someone yesterday who is working to provide a solution.

It is high time that something gets fixed in this broken bus system. First, Jacobs needs to realize that 5.9 routes per bus per day cause major breakdowns in service. Second, the bus department needs to provide better customer service.

Sharon Shiner
Jamaica Plain
Here is the link, just in case you want to check it out online...
Bus BS
Thanks for listening!


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