HISD GM of Transportation addresses bus hub concerns

HISD's bus hub system was put in place this school year to make pick up and drop off better but some parents say it has been anything but.  We’re not only documenting the complaints from parents but also highlighting solutions from the head of HISD's transportation department regarding the 46 new hubs all across Houston.

The idea is to have buses pick up and drop off magnet students at a hub rather than near their home to make bus routes run smoother but some say the idea of it seems to be better than the reality.  

“It's been a very stressful week,” says mother of two Daryl Freedman.  Parent complaints about HISD's new school bus hub system haven't been hard to find. ”You've got kids waiting hours for pick up in the morning, hours to get home in the afternoon.  You've got overcrowded buses,” Freedman adds. 

“As a father of a 7th grader I'm very sorry.  We apologize for the challenges we are having,” says HISD's General Manager of Transportation Tim Brown, who’s reassuring parents the district is working on the issues.  Brown says they've moved to new routing and planning computer software so some of the snags include “how we built our times in association with each stop we realize we need to go back and look at some of those times." 

As for the solution to bus overcrowding.  ”Maybe split those loads up so the bus is not too crowded and we'll potentially have two buses assigned to that particular campus.”

There's also the misconception that buses will go directly from the hub to the school.  However, Brown says the hub creates fewer stops but routes can include stopping at up to five hubs.  That may explain why Daryl Freedman's son was on the bus more than two hours yesterday.  “He was begging me, literally begging me not to ride the bus anymore,” Freedman says.

Brown says HISD has also started what's called a Transportation Route Efficiency Program and for the first time will begin counting actual bus riders as opposed to the projected number. 

“We are still very hopeful and positive about this program being the best for the district as a whole,” says Brown.      

Over the summer, 149 new drivers were recruited at job fairs but after the background and fingerprinting process only 56 were hired.  HISD still needs 80 bus drivers.  The district is second or third in the area regarding starting pay for bus drivers at $16.65 an hour. Tomball is at the top with $17.21 an hour.