Frustration grows as school bus blunders continue in St. Paul - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Frustration grows as school bus blunders continue in St. Paul

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  • Frustration grows as school bus blunders continue in St. PaulMore>>

  • St. Paul School District apologizes for bus bungle

    St. Paul School District apologizes for bus bungle

    Thursday, September 6 2012 2:36 AM EDT2012-09-06 06:36:54 GMT
    Can you imagine waiting over two hours for your student to get dropped off by the school bus? Some parents in St. Paul don't have to because that's exactly what happened.
    Can you imagine waiting over two hours for your student to get dropped off by the school bus? Some parents in St. Paul don't have to because that's exactly what happened -- if their students made it to school at all, that is.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Getting her grandson on and off the correct bus has been frustrating for Nancy Songas. On the first day of school, Songas drove her eighth-grader to school because the bus was more than 20 minutes late. On the second day, a back-up bus got her grandson to class more than an hour late. Day three included waiving a bus down and begging.

"He said, 'This is not my stop. I don't stop here?' I said, 'Well, it says Capitol Hill on your bus and it says the letter 'M' for the bus route," recalled Songas. "I said, 'You boys have to get on this bus, and I was a little nervous to put them on the bus."

After apologizing to parents about 10 missed routes and 36 others that got to school at least 20 minutes late on Tuesday, the district reported 20 morning buses ran late on Wednesday. Of those, 16 routes were more than 20 minutes late.

"Why is it going on?" Songas asked. "That's my problem. It's not getting fixed. I can understand the first day, but it's not getting fixed."

Deputy Superintendent Michael Baumann apologized to parents on Wednesday after about 10 percent of the bus routes were at least 20 minutes late getting students to school or getting them home. A total of 10 routes were missed completely, and it's unknown how many students didn't make it to class at all.

Baumann blames construction along University Avenue and Minnesota Central Bus Company, which won a contract with the district for the first time this year and has lots of new drivers.

Baumann also blames a clear bus driver shortage in the metro.

"Minnesota's economy is doing ok, but we are experience a downturn in the drivers we've been able to hire," Baumann said.

Lt.. Brian Reu oversees school bus inspections and licensing. He agrees there is a bus driver shortage.

"The bus driving job typically isn't your Monday through Friday 8-4 you usually are working split shift you are trying to find qualified people who run these routes for your company," says. Reu.

The Songas family isn't sure what it all means for them.

"Now what's going to happen tomorrow?"

FOX 9 left multiple voicemail messages and e-mail messages with Minnesota Central Bus Company at both their local and corporate offices, but those calls were never returned. On Thursday, FOX 9 stopped by the company's bus garage in St. Paul and was told to leave the property.

St. Paul Schools requires three dry runs for bus routes and three separate days prior to the start of the year. No one has confirmed whether those dry runs happened.

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