MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle Schools: Buses ready for new year despite past hiccups

Sep 1, 2023, 5:11 PM

sps buses...

First Student buses (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

All systems are go for Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) new school year starting Wednesday, including the district’s bussing system with both First Student and Zum, the district reports.

“We are not anticipating cutting any buses,” Marni Campbell, executive director of operations with SPS, told KIRO Newsradio. “In fact, we do not have a shortage of drivers for buses, nor did we last year.”

More on SPS buses: Rival to First Student exposes Seattle Schools’ fumbled bus-bidding war

Last year, the region’s largest school district signed a contract with a school bus company out of California’s Silicon Valley, Zum, and eventually decided to split the contract between Zum and the district’s entrenched bus company, First Student.

Steve Richard, SPS’ transportation director, said the district has a very high morale right now.

“I can tell you, yes, after having my first all-staff meeting of the year today, we have very high morale for being so close to the start of the year,” Richard said. “And most of that has to do with, for the first time in a long time, that we’ve been so confident about the amount of buses and drivers that we can bring.”

While Seattle high schoolers aren’t bused, they can always ride King County Metro to get to school for free — or any form of city transportation.

More on high schoolers riding for free: King County approves free transit for those 18 and younger under a state-wide push to boost ridership

And if buses are late by a minimum of 15 minutes, SPS stated families would be notified. But the carriers will provide that information to the district.

“If we’re not notified by the carriers, we, unfortunately, aren’t able to slow down because we’re not aware of the delay,” Assistant Manager of Field Operations Kimberly Riggins told KIRO Newsradio. “But we are working with them to ensure that we are following up and trying to track that information so that we can follow up and make sure we get that information out to families as well. But it is a minimum of 15 minutes that they will have to be late for a date and notify us that they’re ready.”

The notifications will reach parents through text message and email.

Why Seattle Schools waited to notify parents

And for those wondering why the school system waited until the week before to notify parents about school bus routes, Richard said that was only because many of the city’s routes had changes coming in quite late.

“It’s a balancing act between we don’t want to send what we have early in the summer, because those changes including changes that are phoned into us from the parents, but also from the school center for programs,” Richard continued. “We want to make sure that when we do go through the process of mailing those out that those are as accurate as possible. And for that reason, we can’t do it too soon.”

More on SPS buses: Seattle Schools shuffles student bus routes as driver shortages persist

For parents who experienced long hold times, there’s now a forum to answer questions called Let’s Talk.

“So, Let’s Talk is our online customers service and online form that people can respond to us and ask questions,” Riggins said. “And we answer from the central office or from specific schools. It’s not really an app, it’s more just an online form that people can respond into.”

The most common question on Let’s Talk is address verification and where are school picks up and drop-offs.

Follow Micki Gamez on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Detectives are investigating a Seattle drive-by shooting that happened early Saturday mornin...

Julia Dallas

Seattle police: Woman shot in both hands in early morning drive-by shooting

Detectives are investigating a Seattle drive-by shooting that happened early Saturday morning. A woman was shot in her hands.

10 hours ago

Photo: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the 75th anniversary of NATO at the Andrew W. Mellon...

MyNorthwest and KIRO Newsradio staff

‘Bring it on:’ Washington officials react to Biden dropping out of the race

Washington officials have reacted to President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 presidential election.

15 hours ago

I-5 pedestrian killed...

Bill Kaczaraba

Man killed in hit-and-run on Interstate 5 in Seattle

The Washington State Patrol is in the process of gathering further details about a traffic incident on Interstate-5that left one man dead.

2 days ago

Tegu Tazz...

KATY WADE, KIRO 7 NEWS

Granite Falls alligator turns out to be escaped pet tegu named ‘Tazz’

Reports of a 10-foot alligator have turned out to be an “incredibly docile and friendly” pet tegu by the name of Tazz.

2 days ago

Apartment fire in Sotuh Lake Union. (via KIRO 7)...

Bill Kaczaraba

South Lake Union apartment fire contained, 2 may be injured

An apartment fire in South Lake Union has been contained, but two people may have been injured.. The fire was in the 320 block of 7th Ave N but units remain in the area. Authorities are asking you to avoid the area. Firefighters are on scene at a reported fire in an apartment building in […]

2 days ago

CrowdStrike...

MATT O'BRIEN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

How a faulty CrowdStrike update crashed computers around the world

All it took was one faulty CrowdStrike software update to cause global disruptions that grounded flights, and other services.

2 days ago

Seattle Schools: Buses ready for new year despite past hiccups