HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Some parents in the Houston Independent School District are demanding change, saying their children waited for hours for the bus and in some cases, a bus never arrived to take them to school.
"This year, he’s had to wait up to two hours to be picked up in the morning,” says Susan Green, whose 12-year-old son attends Lanier Middle School. “The bus didn’t come at all a couple of times.”
Green says the problem has been unusually bad in 2017. She adds that her son has arrived late to school 20 or 30 times as the results of a late or missing bus.
Alice Quiroz’ 13-year-old daughter gets picked up by a black party bus each day, one of the buses contracted in to make up for the shortage in Houston ISD buses, but her story is similar to Green's.
“Bus not showing up, bus over an hour to two hours late, me having to go and drive her to school,” says Quiroz, listing the problems that she says she has encountered since day two of the 2017-2018 school year.
Quiroz also says her daughter, who attends The Rice School, went without a bus for two weeks until the mother started contacting the Houston ISD Transportation Department daily.
“And then, I just got a little bit smarter with my questions and asking, 'Is there a driver today?'" describes Quiroz. "Bad part is, some parents leave their kids out there, and they’re out there in the dark.”
Another mother, Patricia, sent photos to FOX 26 News of her son waiting up to two hours in the dark for his bus.
“This is a widespread problem," says Green. "It’s no secret. Ask anybody whose student rides the bus. You’ll hear horror stories.”
When FOX 26 asked Houston ISD about the issue, the district released the following statement:
HISD has 1,059 buses that are on the road each day taking children to and from school. On average, just 4 percent of their pickups are delayed. The transportation department has kept that number low despite numerous transportation challenges this year, including the creation of new routes for relocated schools and a higher than expected number of students displaced by the hurricane being transported under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Additionally, many HISD bus drivers were displaced and unable to work in the weeks following the storm.
The district has contracted outside companies to help transport students, purchased additional buses, and upgraded its software system to create more efficient routes. We’re also currently reviewing all routes to ensure we are fully maximizing our resources and holding job fairs to fill remaining bus driver vacancies.