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Families Struggle with Delays, Changing Routes with Houston District’s New School Bus System

The superintendent for Houston schools apologized for any “inconvenience” in a letter to families this week

Families wait in line on the first day of school at the magnet bus hub stop at Wilson PK-5 on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. Problems have plagued the new bus system all week.
Families wait in line on the first day of school at the magnet bus hub stop at Wilson PK-5 on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. Problems have plagued the new bus system all week.

When her son’s bus didn’t show up on time Monday, Priscilla Bush hopped in an Uber with him and his bus-buddy. She chalked the delay up to the first day of school and thought the kinks in the new bus system would work out soon.

But Bush said their bus has continued to be late at their stop, which is about a 40-minute walk from their home in the Greater Heights. The route keeps changing. And she said her son’s been late to class all week. Once, she said, he called almost in tears because his bus had driven to Bellaire, miles away from his magnet elementary school in Montrose.

“With all the delays and confusion and the changes, it’s certainly not working and it’s cuasing my son to lose classroom time that he’s going to have to make up on his own,” Bush said.

Like the Bush family, many families have struggled with delays, crowded buses and confusion as the Houston Independent School District launched a new bus system for magnet schools this week. It requires students to catch a bus at a hub stop to reach their magnet school and was meant to cut down on wait times and their commute. HISD transportation administrators estimated earlier this week that they expected about 20,000 students to use the new system — which makes up the vast majority of bus-riders in a district strongly marked by school choice.

But many families say the new system made the trip to school even more difficult.

The superintendent for Houston schools apologized for any “inconvenience” in a letter to families this week. Interim superintendent Grenita Lathan went on to explain they’re trying to fix the problems with more hub locations, adjusted pick-up times and new routes, when necessary. 

“I want to assure you that this work will continue until every student is transported to and from school on time and in a safe manner,” Lathan said in the letter.

For Bush, the experience has been frustrating.

“It’s upsetting because he was excited to be able to have that little bit of independence to catch the bus and ride the bus to school,” she said. “But now, it’s not that I don’t trust him, it’s that I don’t trust the adults at HISD to get him from the stop to the school.”

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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