School bus plan backfiring in Bucks Co.

BRISTOL TWP., Pa. - August 30, 2012

Five thousand Bristol students ride buses each day, but a money-saving effort by the school district seems to have backfired.

What kind of grade would one parent give the new busing plan in Bristol?

"F-minus. If I could go below I would," came the response.

It is a dismal report from some parents concerning the new plan for Bristol Township Schools.

"It's just creating problem after problem," said another.

School began on Wednesday, but critics claim the problems are not run-of-the-mill start-up issues. Rather, they say it's a poorly thought-out plan.

"This whole bus set-up is off the wall," said Tom Barton of Levittown, Pa.

A spokesperson for the district who declined to go on camera said the new plan will cut the number of bus stops by two-thirds. Instead of 91 buses there will be 65.

Driven by budget woes, the move will save taxpayers $2 million.

Barton and his wife Kim said their son's bus was a half hour late Wednesday. Thursday he texted a picture saying the bus was jammed with kids.

"There was an issue, the bus was so full it could not go to the next two stops," said Kim Barton. "They had to call in another bus."

Michele Longue's 7-year-old, Danny, is autistic. On Wednesday both buses sent for him lacked required special needs equipment. A phone call and a proper bus were promised for Thursday morning.

But, said Longue, "no bus, no phone call. I've called numerous times today leaving messages."

The district says it is working to eliminate what it calls the remaining glitches soon. With fewer bus stops, some kids will walk farther to catch a bus than in the past.

The district concludes that change supports a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children spend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day walking to school.

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