Some complaints continue about bus service, School System says overall things are working

“Day Two” of school in Chatham County and while officials with the school system say overall, things have gone well, some parents are not yet giving bus service high marks.

For the first time in some years, the school system is running its own transportation center after complaints last year regarding the private contractor that was scheduling and operating buses.

Still, there were what the school system called the “normal” glitches on the first day.  Some parents termed it differently. One emailed us “my son was dropped off 2.4 miles from home.”  Another parent wrote “Second day in a row and the bus did not come at all.”  Still another parent wrote us “I cannot get through on the hotline.”

Even School Board President Jolene Bryne weighed in on Facebook saying there was “some stress because the bus for her son came late in the morning and even later in the evening.”  Yet she also wrote that she had received about 20 percent of the complaints she received last year on the first day of school.

Vladimir Voblikov told us his five years son excited to go to kindergarten until he had his first experience riding the bus. “it was late in the morning and he was late to school,” Voblikov said. “And it was very late in the evening. “He spent three hours getting home yesterday on a bus and he was cold (it had rained) hungry and upset,”

Voblikov said he tried calling the school system hotline. “And it took me 30 minutes on hold and then they gave me information for the wrong bus.  So she placed me on hold and I spent a total of 52 minutes with them on the phone yesterday trying to figure out where the bus was with my child.”

Public Information Manager for Savannah Chatham County Public School System Sheila Blanco said “what was happening is that the call center was overwhelmed. They investigated the issue and found out that  they only had 20 allocated lines coming into the transportation center.”

Blanco told me they are tripling the number of phone lines which “will enable more calls to be answered sooner because there are 15 operators to answer those calls.”

She also said that some parents may have received messages that the phone number was no good.  “From some landlines you didn’t get the message but some people who had cell phones got a message that the number was no good and that was not the case so they figured out what the problem was, they’re in the process of fixing that, not sure exactly how long that will take.”

Blanco and school officials ask parents to be patient.  Blanco says some of the issue revolves around late registrations.  She said some students were still registering on Wednesday and Thursday and they expect more on Monday.  She also said that route adjustments will likely be made.  She says parents should be told by their school if that will be the case for their child’s bus but they can “also check the school website for real time information on the routes.”

She and School Board President Bryne encourage parents to continue to call with concerns and complaints.  The hotline number is 912-395-5591.

Vladimir Voblikov told me his little boy was “still excited to go to school on the second day and the bus was only about 10 minutes late as compared to 20 minutes the first day.” But he also said while his chlld did ride the bus to school that his wife would be picking him up after school.  Voblikov said they weren’t ready to trust that the bus home would be on time.

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