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Waterbury school bus driver union says problems stem from route changes and cost-cutting measures

Parents are frustrated with late and no show buses.

WATERBURY, Conn. — Parents in Waterbury are continuing to put pressure on officials to the ongoing school bus chaos.

They told FOX61 on Monday that either their kids are being picked up late, not being picked up at all, or dropped at the wrong stop. They say their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

“Late late late,” remarked Octavia Dozier, who has two daughters who attend the Waterbury Public Schools.

“It’s a safety issue,” added Heather Smith, who also has kids in the school system.

The school bus concerns in Waterbury are continuing into week three after Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin told FOX61 that they don't have any evidence of issues.

RELATED: Waterbury parents upset at school bus company for poor transportation service

Octavia Dozier told FOX61 the bus has left her kids waiting for hours on sketchy streets.

“Two hours in the rain,” she said. “I was like this is crazy. As soon as I decided to leave, another bus came and decided to take her to school. It wasn’t even her route.”

She’s frustrated because nobody seems to care.

“I kept calling Durham. Ring ring ring ring. I called again, voicemail. Called again, kept ringing. Again, voicemail," Dozier said.

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Heather Smith said late buses are even getting her kids disciplined because tardiness beyond a certain point, counts as an unexcused absence.

“It’s not fair to us as parents. It’s not fair to the kids or the schools that we have to wait for our bus that either shows up really late or doesn’t show up at all and some parents don’t even have a ride to give their kids to school," she said.

RELATED: Waterbury parents concerns grow over school busing, highlighting disconnect with district administrators

Waterbury bus drivers said they aren’t the problem.

“These workers absolutely care about these children,” explained Mike Harms of the Amalgamated Transit Union, who represents the bus drivers.

He told FOX61 that the bus company, Durham School Services, has been plagued by mismanagement and decided to change or eliminate long-established routes and add more stops.

“From everything that I’ve seen this is where the problem stems from,” said Harms. “I believe it absolutely is budgetary. They are trying to trim some fat.”

For the third time, Durham School Services and National Express haven’t responded to FOX61’s request for an interview, only saying in a statement that there was a glitch in routing software and they, “apologize for the inconvenience.”

Parents told FOX61 that since the superintendent says there isn’t any evidence of their concern, they plan to show up when Waterbury holds its Board of Education meeting this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Waterbury Arts Magnet School.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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