People generally agree that setbacks happen and are willing to accommodate the occasional mishap. Buses are late. Trains don’t run on schedule. Traffic gets jammed.
But what is happening in Wallingford appears to be systemic. It’s due, say parents, to repeated consolidations of school bus routes. That has meant crowded situations for the young people on board the buses, and delays.
The delays have a snowball effect: Late buses mean longer waiting times that can lead to parents being late for work. Imagine the anxiety of a parent waiting for a bus to arrive, and then waiting some more, torn between the need to get to work, and perhaps maintain a job, and the safety of children.
“I see an unprecedented amount of parents dropping their kids off at school,” said Town Councilor Jason Zandri. “They are doing it because they can’t trust the bus schedule.”
What’s the point of having a bus system if it can’t be trusted?
The situation needs to be corrected as soon as possible, and shouldn’t wait while the school system goes about the process of awarding the next five-year transportation contract. That contract goes into effect on July 1, which means a selection of a service won’t be made until April or May.
The school system’s business manager, Dominic Barone, told the Record-Journal that Durham School Services, which has the current contract, has been receptive to working on the issue. If that’s the case, it should be made clear that time is of the essence.
Zandri, who has children attending Wallingford schools, is to be commended for bringing this issue to the attention of the town.
Recently, Barone was unable to say if the town has seen an increase in route consolidation. Those numbers should exist somewhere.
The onus is on the Board of Education and School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo to provide that information to the public and address the issues that Zandri raises as soon as possible.