New Seattle School-Bus Plan Causing Headaches for Parents

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Monday, November 7, 2011

The first time the bus assigned to take her third-grade daughter to Alki Elementary School arrived late, Myrtle Griffiths wrote it off as an inevitable first-week-of-school annoyance.

But the late arrivals continued, and after almost a month of consistently waiting with her daughter for between 20 and 40 minutes every day, Griffiths decided to start driving her daughter to school.

"We have registered sex offenders within walking distance of our stop," she said. "I don't want my daughter standing out there."

Griffiths is among many Seattle Public Schools parents who are frustrated with the district's new transportation plan.

The plan is saving money and, in some cases, shortening bus rides. But it's also causing hundreds of students to walk farther to bus stops, others to wait longer at the stops, and some to find their way to school on their own.

Adopted in February, the plan aimed to save $4 million this school year by taking 80 yellow buses off the road — one-fifth of the fleet.

To manage with fewer buses, the district cut off bus service to 300 students attending school far away from their homes, established centralized bus stops that pick up many kids at once, and staggered school start times so bus drivers could complete three different routes each morning and afternoon.

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