Your Stories: What’s causing school bus delays for students in Syracuse?

Your Stories

SYRACUSE, N.Y (WSYR-TV) — Some parents with students enrolled in the Syracuse City School District have reached out to the NewsChannel 9 Your Stories team, wondering why the school bus isn’t picking them up or dropping them off on time.

So, what’s the cause of all of the delays?

A spokesperson for the Syracuse City School District says there are multiple factors. The first being the two separate companies that provide transportation for the district: Centro and First Student.

First Student is the primary source of transportation for students in kindergarten through 8th grade, and Centro covers many of the district’s high school students.

Steve Koegel, Centro’s Vice President of Communications and Business Planning, told NewsChannel 9 he and his team have been slammed with calls from concerned parents whose children have been late to school.

“We’ve had hundreds of parents call us over the past week,” — Steve Koegel, Centro

Centro provides two separate services for the Syracuse City School District. The first is a direct service that picks up students on city streets and takes them directly to their school. Koegel said those services have not changed this year.

However, the bigger concern involves the high school students who rely on Centro’s regular bus routes and travel to the hub in Downtown Syracuse to get to school.

Because Centro recently changed its weekday schedule, Koegel said some students may not be aware of the new transfer times.

“We’ve put new procedures in place to prevent delays going forward,” Koegel said. “We know we’ve had some delays in some of our services, so we made some of those changes and we think going forward, we should be in a better place.”

In addition to the service modifications, Centro is also in a pinch to hire more drivers.

“We’re down 35 to 40 drivers. Normally, we have drivers that operate the same trip, the same run every day. That has changed, so it’s been a challenge for us this first week.”

STEVE KOEGEL, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND BUSINESS PLANNING, CENTRO

Koegel said the Syracuse City School District and Centro are actively working to come up with a solution that will better serve the students, such as a change in dismissal time for students at the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central.

Our priority right now, as we’ve said when we began this process, that our priority was to get the city school students to school on time. That is still our priority and we are working towards that. We believe that by tomorrow (Thursday) and the next couple of days, we’ll have all of the kinks worked out.

Be patient. This is not the service that we want to provide. This is not the service our community deserves, and we’re going to work forward and work towards getting our service back to the levels that everyone expects.

Steve Koegel, Vice President of Communications and Business Planning, Centro

The spokesperson for the Syracuse City School District said any First Student delay is caused by last minute bus route changes.

Read the statement from the Syracuse City School District below:

Centro recently switched to an Enhanced Saturday Schedule instead of their normal weekday schedule.  This is not supposed to impact our direct service routes or those routes that take our students directly to their HS.  The concern is with students who have to go to the Hub and transfer.  Some of those routes have had time changes and Centro is aware that the change they made is in fact having an impact on our students who do not have direct service routes to their high school.  We are working with them to come up with a solution that will better serve our students.

Any delays involving First Student are a direct result of our transportation department having to process over 1,000 changes to student bus routes over the weekend.  These changes are for things like: change of address, new childcare request stop, newly classified McKinney Vento students or special education students, medical transportation requests etc.  And of course, this all has a ripple effect because one change on a route affects the entire route.

Michael Henesey, Administrator for Communications, Syracuse City School District

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