Cumberland school officials fed up with buses being late

Cumberland school officials fed up with buses being late

CUMBERLAND – There’s no excuse for not getting students to school on time, say local education officials.

Cumberland isn’t about to see a decline in traffic, they emphasize, so its incumbent upon the local school bus company to figure out how to get all students to class on time.

Representatives from Durham School Services now say they’ve ironed out just about all issues with buses being late, but school leaders remain concerned after a second year in a row of numerous issues over the first two months of school.

School Committee members on Oct. 26 questioned Paul Neves, of Durham, after numerous reports of late buses. Neves cited excessive traffic along Mendon Road as one reason for the late buses, saying without the excessive traffic at Route 295, a driver taking students to Ashton School could shave about five or six minutes off his route.

“Mendon Road is just clogged,” he said.

Committee members weren’t buying it. School board member Stephen Hess said he can appreciate that Mendon Road is busy, but “it’s been a busy road for decades.” Diamond Hill Road will be a “nightmare for years” once construction starts there, said Hess.

“I understand the traffic, but it’s not an excuse for the students not getting to school on time,” he said.

“I can’t arrive late to work consistently every day and blame the train or traffic,” he told Neves. “If there are issues related to traffic causing us not to be able to deliver students to school on time, then we need to know about that.”

Hess and others said they appreciate the efforts being made by Neves and others, but it’s not acceptable to have significant bus issues several weeks into the school year. Traffic patterns won’t be changing anytime soon, they said.

Neves told the committee there was just one bus still arriving consistently late as of two weeks ago, and that was a mini bus taking students to Cumberland Hill School.

Earlier issues with Bus 26 to Community School were ironed out, said Neves, and he hadn’t received further complaints. Bus 19 to Ashton was also running on schedule after moving pickup forward by 12 minutes by taking some of the load away with an additional bus, he said.

“It has worked tremendously,” said Neves.

Also contributing to bus problems this year were the high number of “shelter” students, or Cumberland students who have had to move to other communities due to house fires or other reasons, having to be bused back to town, said Neves. There are about seven shelter students right now, he said.

School board members asked that Neves provide them with a complete breakdown of all route and time changes, and will review them at their next meeting.


Seriously...are these people, including Mr. Hess, not at all paying attention as to why this issue exists?

A couple of months ago there was an in-depth report from the Chief on this, as reported in the Breeze, regarding the horrendous traffic issue in town, especially Mendon Road during AM & PM Rush Hours.

For a couple of years, after I retired, I delivered auto parts for a store just about on the Woonsocket/Cumberland line...the store on Mendon Road.

At Rush Hour it took one hour to make a single delivery in the Valley Falls area...and get back to the store.

Add to that RI being the only state in the country requiring little old lady bus monitors having to, at every stop, walk to 3-different locations, after a student is loaded, bend over (an effort for many) to make sure no one walked under the bus, etc., etc.

Count the number of times, during the run that this effort is extended. 20-seconds + or - total before the monitor is back on the bus and it rolling to the next stop.

You realize how much time wasted?

As an example, using math not taught today, figure 21 stops X's 20-seconds equals 7-minutes. It may not sound like a lot...but, it all adds up and contributes to the problem!

And, let us not forget the unnecessary added cost, etc. of these monitors.

So much of the issue has to do with poor traffic signal timing on Mendon Rd and Diamond Hill Rd. RIDOT needs to sit out there, watch traffic flow, and adjust timing.

It's that simple. Fix it and delays will be cut in half.

From my personal observations (mornings and afternoons) over the past 4+ years, the Cumberland bus monitors take their responsibility very seriously, working diligently to protect everyone who may come into proximity with a school bus. IMHO to insinuate that the safety precautions exercised by our monitors represent an "unnecessary added cost" is insulting to anyone who has lost a loved one in a bus accident and/or anyone who would be devastated to experience harm coming to their own children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
Jeanne Ballou

Durham Bus Company services a lot of school municipalities and has local offices in Smithfield. Each and every morning, I am confronted by these buses moving at an extremely slow rate of speed. On Pleasant View Avenue, they are moving at 30 mph in a 35. On George Washington Highway, they are moving at 25-30 mph in a 50. If they have to take a hill, forget it! It's 20 mph! The bus drivers lack the common sense to look in their mirrors and see 10 or more vehicles behind them, and pull over to the side or breakdown lane as a courtesy.

I've contacted Durham Bus Company and complained about the driver's driving well below the posted speed limits. The response was that most of their buses are fitted with Governors that prevent them from driving at or above the posted speed limits, and limit them to no more than 30 miles per hour! I'm not trying to be a speed demon on the roads, but we all have places to be at a certain time; namely work. But I am constantly being held up by Durham buses because they are traveling at a snail's pace during the rush hour. As I said, the bus drivers lack the mental capacity to pull over and let others pass, and as a result, they apparently will never manage to make it to their destinations on time as well! Not until someone at an intelligent level (if one so exists anymore) can force Durham to remove these Governors frrm their buses and allow them to keep up with traffic at the very least. Children's safety comes first and foremost of course, but following one of these buses is like getting stuck behind a horse and carriage in Amish Country!

Seriously cant figure out why buses are late? Try travailing on any main road in Cumberland or any other town in the state at peak hours. As more and more housing is built without upgrading roads ,did you expect things to speed up? When a expert is hired to provide their analyst on increase traffic because some developer want to put 100 pounds of stuff in a 50 pound container do you think your going to get the truth? You better get use to it because it only getting worst . Good thing drivers have their smart phones to keep them occupied while driving !

Another big problem is that very often a parent
dropping off or picking up their child engage in
a lengthy coversaion with the monitor or bus drivers.
After a few minutes of conversation, laughing and having
a good time they move to the next stop which is the
next street where it starts all over again. Before long
You have a lengthy line of cars behind the bus and or
the opposite directions. Where are the bus company

Cumberland needs probably 4 more school buses to move the children in a timely manner. We are just too damn cheap to spend the money. Cumberland Public Schools provide busing for Cumberland Public Schools, Mercy Mount, Out of District charter schools, Davies, and homeless children that could be living anywhere in the state. They don't pay for BVP but BVP uses Durham as well so they can back each other up in an emergency.

Time for depot pickup's for middle and high school children.

Talk to the PLANNING board ! They created this mess !You CANNOT put 300 homes on a road that was designed for a horse and buggy ! I my self HATE bus drivers but in this case it is NOT the BUS DRIVERS FAULT ! PISS POOR planning is to blame for this !!!!!!!

I would like to address a few points that have been presented.

~ In response to the extra 20 seconds taken up by the monitor: “Since the mandate was passed in 1986, no children have been killed by buses when a safety monitor was present. Prior to the mandate, at least one school bus fatality occurred each year between 1979 and 1986. “ 

~The maximum speed of a school bus in this state is dictated, BY LAW, by the state; not by the impatient public.

~As far as pulling over and letting traffic go by: Once the bus pulls over NOONE ever lets the bus back out into the lane of travel. Talk about wasting time, 5 minutes sitting on the side of the road doing nothing but wait will not improve the situation.

~My recommendation to the general public is: Leave home a little earlier. Get to work with time to spare and perhaps enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee to start your day.

Signed, A beleaguered bus driver.