Parents Voice Concerns About Hours-Long School Bus Route

HISD acknowledges that the district is having a problem hiring bus drivers.

Lucio Vasquez/Houston Public Media

Parents of kids who go to the Arabic Immersion Magnet School in Montrose are taking issue with their children’s new bus route.

Jill Eseer's daughter is in kindergarten and her schools ends at 2:50 p.m. Before Thanksgiving, she said her daughter would arrive back at her stop around 3:45 p.m. After Thanksgiving, she started arriving around 5 p.m.

"The bus leaves at 6 a.m., those kids are getting on the bus and not getting back until close to 5 p.m... that's insane,” Eseer said.

She said she is particularly concerned because her daughter is uncomfortable when she gets home from school.

“The kids get off the bus and they rush to the bathroom,” she said.

In an official statement, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) said the route was “consolidated recently as part of ongoing efforts to streamline operations and increase efficiency through review of student ridership and route and stop locations.”

They also acknowledged the fact that the district is having a problem hiring bus drivers. “Transportation Services continues to face an ongoing critical driver shortage, like its counterparts across the region,” HISD said in the statement. “The department is actively recruiting and hiring bus drivers, hosting three job fairs a month as part of continuing efforts to make sure all routes are fully staffed.”

HISD has an app called SafeStop that allows parents to see where the bus with their children is at any given moment.

“Literally after being on the bus for over an hour, I can track them, they’re five minutes from where they got picked up," said Iman Hassan, a parent of a child at the school.

She also said that the app has not worked properly since the route changed after Thanksgiving — it still says that her child gets home at 3:45 p.m.

“The department is continuing to work with SafeStop to troubleshoot technical glitches resulting from incorrect application configurations. SafeStop users are encouraged to make sure they download all SafeStop software updates to ensure they have access to the latest data,” HISD said in a statement.

No comment was given on if this route will change in the future. Parents have previously voiced concerns about lengthy HISD bus routes, including one three-hour bus ride that turned into a medical emergency.