School bus transportation in the Lake Washington School District has been inadequate and incompetent for years and we all know it! How many times have students and parents come before the school board and complained that the buses are late, overcrowded or don't come at all. How many times have the television news stations done stories on our dysfunctional bus transportation system? And every time the board and superintendent do nothing to address the ongoing problems and valid complaints.
The Transportation Director claims that they can't find enough bus drivers - a lame excuse for not figuring out how to fix the department's poor planning and mismanagement issues. In response to the lack of bus service, parents put their kids in the car and drive them to school. Our schools zone become clogged with cars dropping off and picking up kids. Every day is a giant traffic jam!
The District has 95 bus drivers - so there is no shortage of bus drivers. The District has 136 yellow school buses: 86 full-size buses that can carry 56 high school students or 80-90 elementary students. Additionally, the District has 50 half-length buses that can carry 36-40 students. These buses could drive multiple routes per day, picking up and dropping off students from elementary, middle and high school if they were planned efficiently. Our schools have staggered start times specifically intended to provide multiple bus routes per day. There is a significant amount of rider capacity available in the transportation department; however, it is not being used efficiently. The problem is that routing and planning is incompetent and inadequate. Current routes are illogical and inefficient - demonstrating that the planning staff have not had adequate training to use the GIS-based software that routes the buses.
The Transportation Director and Assistant Director need to be required to improve efficiency and to bus all eligible students or a new director needs to be hired. All of our students and families have suffered from incompetence in the Lake Washington School District Transportation Department. Our students deserve better.