Buffalo students told to wait 2 hours at school for bus pickup

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Buffalo mom is seeking reforms to the bus system for Buffalo Public Schools, after the bus for her children was nearly three hours late in picking them up from school.

The family says this wasn’t the first time their bus was extremely late and that it’s been a recurring issue this school year. They say the district’s three-tiered bell system, implemented at the beginning of the year to address the bus driver shortage, hasn’t been working for their family.

“It’s so unfair to these kids, it really is, they end up spending almost more time on the bus than they actually do inside of the school building,” said Jillian Cannan.

Cannan isn’t just talking about her own kids, she’s also talking about other children in Buffalo Schools who have to endure long wait times, due to the ongoing bus driver shortage.

“With it being so inconsistent, it’s almost impossible to plan for anything like we’re not just talking about a ten-minute difference here, we’re talking about hours of difference,” Cannan said.

That’s what happened on Friday — Cannan got this bus alert on her phone — saying her kids’ bus at Lorraine Academy would be delayed. And that, a driver would be available around 5:15 in the evening, not even given an approximate time. The screen shot is taken at about 2:45 that afternoon — just before dismissal time — that means her kids’ bus on that day was at least two hours late. Her family lives about five minutes from school by car.

“I think the biggest issue for me is the delay in communication, the fact that we’re not finding out until the school is already dismissed that our children don’t have a way home that is a huge problem for me,” Cannan said.

On Friday, Cannan says she went and picked her kids up so they didn’t have to wait all that time.

In response to Cannan’s concerns, First Student says the challenge they run into is when they have bus drivers who call off, service changes then need to be made, which can cause delays, because buses have to run double routes.

Buffalo Schools say the district’s three-tier bell system has improved pickup and drop off times and shortened the average length of time students are on buses. According to parents we’ve heard from the system got off to a rocky start with students and student-athletes being late for school, games and practices.

But to Cannan, she says its made things worse.

“I’m failing to see the benefit in any of this for our children,” she said.

She says First Student has agreed to switch her kids’ bus route, but that won’t take effect for another two weeks. First Student says its been trying to address the bus driver shortage by hosting more job fairs, increasing pay and signing bonuses and referral bonuses.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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