Wallingford superintendent seeks immediate solutions to bus problems

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — The superintendent of schools says the district’s school bus company has until the end of the week to find solutions to route consolidation, which has reportedly caused delays and crowded buses.  

“Either they're going to act and resolve the matter or we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions as to transportation for our district,” said Superintendent Salvatore Menzo.

During the meeting with Durham School Services on Thursday, the town presented potential solutions and gave the company to the end of the week to act, Menzo said.

“We have drawn a line in the sand so to speak,” he said.

Edward Flavin, a Durham School Services spokesman, said the route consolidations are a result of a shortage of bus drivers. 

Menzo said he understands some drivers will be out sick, but wants to see a return to “normal.”

“Families can’t tolerate this any further, I can't tolerate this any further as a superintendent,” he said.

The day before the meeting between the school district and the bus company, Town Councilor Jason Zandri told the Record-Journal more and more parents were driving their kids to school to avoid being late for work after buses on consolidated routes didn’t arrive on time.

“If I've got to get to work and I'm standing there waiting for the bus to pick up my younger one … how long do I wait before I pick him up and bring him to (school) so I can make it to work on time?” he said.

In one message Zandri received and shared with the Record-Journal, a parent of a Highland Elementary School student wrote that their son began crying when told his route might be consolidated again. Students sit four to a seat when routes are combined and rides can take as long as 50 minutes, according to the parent.

While the problem must be solved, Menzo said he doesn’t believe that buses have become “unsafe.”

Zandri said anecdotal evidence suggested an increase in consolidate routes, but Menzo doesn’t think that is the case.

“There have been routes that have been consolidated or combined, but we continue to work with them. I don't believe we've seen an increase,” he said. 

Negotiations are currently underway for the next five-year contract to provide bus service, which is expected to be awarded in April or May. Bidding for the contract closed on Nov. 21, 2019 with 15 proposals received — including Durham School Services, the New Britain Transportation Co. and DATTCO.

Twitter: @leith_yessian

"Families can’t tolerate this any further, I can't tolerate this any further as a superintendent."

-Sal Menzo

More From This Section