New Haven school bus service called into question

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NEW HAVEN--This brutal winter has presented plenty of challenges for parents getting children off to school, but bitter cold bus service is another challenge one New Haven mother says her children face consistently.

There are no sidewalks near the school bus stop at Howard and Summit streets. This, coupled with the school bus arriving at inconsistent times, has caused Mayrim Ortiz to keep her children in the house during the frequent frigid mornings while waiting for the bus/

As soon as the bus starts coming up Howard Street, toward Summit, I make them exit the house and I walk them down our driveway to the bus,” says Ortiz, who has three children that take the same bus.

When there’s been a substitute school bus driver and it is cold is when the trouble arises. Ortiz says the bus does not stop long enough for her kids to get out of the house to the bus stop, which is only 100 feet away.

“They said that they cannot wait more than 15 seconds for a child because there are 10,000 children that need to be picked up,” Ortiz explained.

Ortiz claims both New Haven Public Schools school system and its bus company,  First Student, made her aware of the 15 second rule.

“Just beep the horn when you come here,” recommends Arthur Natalino, Sr., who is the co-chairman of the 13th Ward and has lived in Ortiz’s neighborhood for over 50 years. “I just don't understand why they just cannot do that.”

Ortiz says she and her children, countless times, have waved and yelled to their bus driver as they are walking out of the house, but that “they just keep going.”

When the children miss the bus, they also have to miss school because Ortiz does not have a car. She says this has been the scenario four or five times this winter.

Ortiz says the transportation department for New Haven Public Schools told her that their buses are equipped with GPS, which allows them to track every time a driver opens and closes a door and for how long. On Friday, Ortiz says the school system said she was lying when she contended the driver never opened the door that morning. They claimed to have GPS proof that he opened the door and waited the required 15 seconds.

Natalino says he plans to talk with Alderwoman Rose Santana (D-13) on behalf of Ortiz to get some action on a “common problem” for many years in the neighborhood.

Last Friday, when Ortiz’s children missed the bus, they were especially sad. They missed a fundraiser at school that day, which was raising money for the family of a fellow student who recently passed away.

A representative of New Haven schools reached out to Fox CT to say the director of the district’s transportation department will personally reach out to Ortiz and will visit the bus stop to resolve this ongoing issue.

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