First Student, the largest provider of student transportation in North America, saw revenue and profit gains for fiscal year 2015, according to annual earnings released last month. The company cited alterations in the prices of new contract bids and renewals for the boosts. …. With almost a third of its contracts up for renewal in 2014, the company held a 90 percent retention rate with those contracts averaging 4.5 percent price increases. Currently, with more than half of 2015 contract renewal negotiations completed, First Student said it has seen an average price increase in excess of 5 percent. ….
Salem police officers cited a school bus driver for careless driving after they say he fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed a bus into two trees, a highway sign and a retaining wall. There were no passengers on board and no one was hurt in the crash, Salem Police Lieutenant Dave Okada said. According to police, 32-year-old Josiah Muckey was driving a Western Mennonite School bus south on Salem Parkway Northeast when around 7 a.m. he crashed near the Cherry Avenue intersection. …. When asked if Muckey will be able to stay on as a driver, Schultz said, “I would think so. I certainly hope so.” The state education department told KATU private school bus drivers like Muckey have to go through the same background checks and training as public school drivers. The only difference is the state doesn’t fingerprint private school employees. …
A school bus driver was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of drunken driving after police found him at the wheel of the bus, which was stuck in a muddy median outside downtown Fort Worth. …. A witness told police that he “had seen a school bus driving on the road in a dangerous manner,” Knight said. The driver, Joe David Stanley, 50, told police that he worked for First Student, a national corporation that contracts with school districts for student transportation. The company also charters the school buses for private events. Police said Stanley told them that he had driven a wedding party to Allen and gotten lost on the way home to Joshua. Stanley had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, higher than the legal limit for driving, police said. Joshua school Superintendent Fran Marek said drivers are supposed to put First Student magnets on the side of a bus to cover the school district’s name when the buses are used for after-hours charter services. “He was not a Joshua ISD employee; he was a First Student employee,” Marek said. “Was that a Joshua ISD bus? No, that was a First Student bus.” …..
Source: School Bus Fleet, May 28, 2015
Student Transportation Inc. subsidiary GoldStar Transit Inc. has been awarded contracts at four school districts in Texas. The long-term contracts will add more than 180 vehicles and will increase current fiscal year revenues by about $8.6 million annually, company officials said. One of the contracts is an initial conversion of 50 buses of the district’s more than 300 school transportation vehicles. The contracts include annual increases and 100% customer-paid fuel, and they add to the regional density of GoldStar Transit’s existing operations in Texas, company officials said….
Source: School Bus Fleet, May 20, 2015
Student Transportation of America (STA) has been awarded a new $3 million annual contract to provide transportation services to Lake Oswego School District. This will be the first operation in Oregon for STA, which is a subsidiary of Student Transportation Inc. The initial five-year contract provides for customer-shared fuel costs and includes a five-year option to extend. …. STA will be holding informational sessions with current drivers and personnel, who will be given the first opportunity to work for the company, officials said. ….
A woman raised concerns about bus safety after a Durham school bus reportedly backed into her car in the middle of the street Thursday. … Durham confirmed the driver was planning to turn right but noticed a truck in the way. That’s when the woman said the driver put the bus in reverse and slammed into the woman’s car. …
School bus contract may not have given the district the best deal
Source: Wayne Carter, WREG, May 6, 2015
School bus drivers in Shelby County spent this school year making headlines. Mix in a company recruiting employees at 201 Poplar & having crash after crash, it was no surprise it raised concerns with the only one who school leaders said stepped up to do business here. ….
Durham joins Outsourcing Hall of Shame
Source: Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), AFT Local 6732, March 30, 2015
It’s easy to find stories of outsourcing gone wrong all across the country. But Durham School Services’ woes in Shelby County, Tenn. were widespread and well-documented by Memphis TV station WMC-TV.
Visitors to OSEA.org voted that Durham’s performance in Memphis was worthy of being the second inductee into the Outsourcing Hall of Shame. Here were some of the reasons:
– Durham hired a driver with a felony aggravated assault conviction and only let him go after he was caught smoking marijuana on his school bus waiting for students to finish their basketball tournament.
– The company kept on the job a driver with a suspended license and eight outstanding traffic tickets until he crashed his bus.
– Its drivers were responsible for 125 at-fault crashes in less than three full school years.
– A tree service owner said a Durham bus wrecked his equipment in a crash — forcing him to spend money on additional workers — and stopped responding to his requests for compensation.
These are textbook reasons to keep student transportation local, yet a school board member told the TV station it would be too expensive to bring student transportation back in-house, so the district is stuck with outsourcing.
UPDATE: Bus driver suspended after being recorded swearing at students
Source: Michael Quander, WREG, March 29, 2015
A Durham bus driver has been placed on administrative leave after she was recorded yelling and swearing at children on the way home from school. The bus driver is heard shouting, “take care of y’all *expletive* business so I can drop y’all at home.” Students from Bolton High School told WREG a bus ride home, on March 10, took an unexpected turn. According to students, a Durham School Services bus driver is seen on video yelling and swearing at a group of children. “Do what you going to do and get y’all *expletive* back on the bus,” the driver shouted. One mother said her son captured part of the incident on his cell phone…..
Durham school bus driver has been involved in two accidents this year
Source: Caitlin Alexander, WREG, March 26, 2015
A Durham School Services bus driver wasn’t driving her normal route Thursday, after she was involved in a school bus crash in Cordova Tuesday. Durham is investigating the crash at Germantown and Club. It sent a motorcyclist to the hospital. There were Cordova Middle School students on the bus, but no one on board was hurt….
British Parliament in Memphis to hear school bus concerns
Source: Jessica Gertler, WREG, February 18, 2015
Durham School Services questioned British Parliament members, who are visiting Memphis to look into bus complaints. National Express, the parent company of Durham School Services, is based out of the United Kingdom. Parliament members came across the pond Wednesday to hold a forum and listen to your concerns on safety, working conditions, and equipment problems….. Parliament members also talked about making the union here stronger and expanding it. They said it will hold Durham more accountable. ….
Durham returns driver recruitment plan to SCS on time
Source: Caitlin Alexander, WREG, February 9, 2015
Shelby County Schools confirmed Durham School Services made good on its promise to have a bus driver recruitment plan prepared before the end of December. This past school year got off to a bumpy start, with dozens of bus crashes and a driver arrested for having pot on board. Durham executives vowed to SCS it would take three steps to improve driver quality, including third-party background checks, more frequent drug/alcohol screenings, and a prepared driver recruitment plan for 2015…. Durham’s plan says SCS’ current contract requires 525 drivers, but driver turnover averages about 30 percent. So for 2015, Durham needs to recruit 160 drivers and 50 bus aides. ….
Feds fail to inspect Durham School Services for almost 8 years
Source: Andy Wise, WMC, December 1, 2014
Documents revealed the federal agency charged with conducting safety reviews of school bus companies has not reviewed Durham School Services in nearly eight years. The last time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a “full comprehensive review” of Shelby County’s exclusive school bus transportation provider was 2007, according to agency records. Those records also revealed the agency rated Durham School Services as “conditional,” a probationary rating, for what Dr. Jolanda Janczewski described as an unacceptable number of driver violations….
…Durham’s national trend from that review mirrors its problems here in Shelby County. A WMC Action News 5 investigation revealed numerous Durham accidents, incidents and drivers with questionable criminal and motor vehicle histories, including a driver on a suspended license for nearly $900 in unpaid traffic fines and another whose violent felony history was revealed after he was caught smoking pot on his school bus. Shelby County Schools records indicated in the three years Durham has operated in Shelby County, it has racked up 251 accidents, from single-bus mishaps with fire hydrants to major crashes involving minor injuries. According to FMCSA, Durham has tallied 320 accidents in the last two years among almost 400 school districts nationwide. Those crashes include 157 injuries and 6 fatalities. The records do not indicate if those fatalities included any students….
Company Snapshot – Durham School Services LP
Source: US Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carries Safety Administration, 2014
Tennessee district awards expanded contract to Durham
Source: School Bus Fleet, May 28, 2014
Durham School Services was awarded a four-year student transportation contract with the Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tenn. The company will begin providing transportation on July 1. Durham has served Shelby County Schools in a smaller capacity since 2010, and will now take over and operate the district’s entire fleet and all of its routes. … Durham’s agreement with the school district calls for 580 buses to serve 527 routes. … In addition, 265 jobs will be created; Durham is holding job fairs seeking bus drivers, dispatchers and monitors on Wednesday and Friday….
Shelby County School Board outsources bus services in special-called meeting
Source: Tajuana Cheshier, Chalkbeat Tennessee, May 14, 2014
Shelby County school board members outsourced its bus services and approved new transportation software at a special-called meeting Tuesday. It also gave a four-year transportation contract to Durham School Services to transport an estimated 117,000 students. Shelby County School district expects to save $3.8 million from outsourcing transportation, according to its budget. The district will be laying off all of its transportation employees…..Durham is also expected to purchase the district’s fleet of buses for $5.2 million…..
The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that the Central Point School District violated the law by not conducting a thorough cost analysis before contracting out its student bus services in 2011. The appellate court overturned Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ron Grensky’s 2012 decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed by former district bus driver Stephanie Hicks and sent the case back to the lower court for further review and a judgment consistent with its opinion that the district was at fault. Oregon Revised Statute 279B requires that public agencies — in this case, the school district — perform a detailed cost-benefit analysis before outsourcing government services of more than $250,000. This analysis must demonstrate that outsourcing services would be cheaper than providing them in-house….
Laid-off school bus driver wins Oregon court ruling over outsourcing
Source: The Oregonian, April 27, 2015
Four years after losing her job to outsourcing, bus driver Stephanie Hicks will get a second chance to challenge the Central Point School District’s decision to lay off its own employees and hire a private contractor.The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled April 22 that the Medford-area school district violated state law by using an inadequate and improper process for evaluating potential cost savings. The ruling overturns a decision by the Jackson County Circuit Court and orders the lower court to reconsider the case “consistent with this opinion.”Generally, school districts and other state agencies can outsource government services by demonstrating that the change will save taxpayer money. However, a 2009 state law prohibits the change “if the sole reason” for the reduced cost is the potential contractor’s lower wages and benefits. ….
A north suburban animal shelter has filed a lawsuit against a bus company whose driver crashed a school bus through the front wall of the shelter in October 2013. Wright-Way Rescue filed the suit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against Alltown Bus Service Inc., and driver Janice O’Leary. …. The bus jumped a curb on the north side of Touhy and crashed into Wright-Way. No one inside the building, human or animal, was injured. O’Leary was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, authorities said. According to the lawsuit, O’Leary became distracted, fell off her seat and lost control of the bus. … “As a result of the crash, many of the animals that WWR had planned to rescue were instead euthanized at animal control facilities throughout the Midwest,” the suit states. …
The ABC7 I-Team uncovered hundreds of school bus safety violations, with nearly 200 buses running red lights and speeding on Chicago’s streets. …. The I-Team discovered the nearly 200 red light violations by school bus drivers in city records dating from January 2014 until February of this year provided under a Freedom of Information Act request. …. Headquartered on the West Side, R & D Bus Company has by far the most violations caught on camera since 2014. R & D buses were caught blowing through red lights 47 times, and they’ve received 89 speeding violations. Their 136 violations make up 40 percent of all of the school bus tickets issued citywide since January of 2014 and despite all of their tickets piling up, neither the company nor their drivers have paid any of them. ….
Source: James Blue, School Bus Fleet, May 11, 2015
[Editor’s note: They use Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s figures as corroborating evidence]
Data collected by SBF over the past six consecutive years show increases in the proportion of contractor buses being used, from one-quarter in 2007-08 to one-third in 2012-13. ….
…. First, some background information: Each year, SBF collects U.S. school transportation data (see pg. 29 in our 2015 Fact Book), which breaks down most states’ school buses by how many are owned by districts, contractors or the state.
With this data, we can get an estimate of the proportion of school buses in the nation that are contractor owned, and we can compare it to previous years.
Here’s what we found in our previous editorial:
• 2007-08 school year: 25.6% contractor buses
• 2008-09: 26.9% contractor buses
• 2009-10: 28.1% contractor buses
Now, we’ve done the same calculations for the data we’ve compiled in the years since that editorial. Here’s what we found:
• 2010-11 school year: 28.3% contractor buses
• 2011-12: 30.0% contractor buses
• 2012-13: 34.7% contractor buses
Keep in mind that these are estimates, and they only take into account the school buses that states were able to categorize as district, contractor or state owned (some states can’t give us that breakdown). However, these percentages are useful in making year-to-year comparisons, and now they’ve shown increases in the proportion of contractor buses for six consecutive years. ….