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CPS Enacts Changes To Problem-Plagued Bus System

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Cincinnati Public Schools' Lauren Worley says the district started implementing changes and improvements to its overtaxed bus system this week. Since school began Aug. 19, parents have complained about buses being overcrowded, late or not showing up at all.

Worley says that is unacceptable. The district is implementing several changes to respond to the increased demand. It has:

  • appointed a chief strategy officer - a position that had been vacant for a few months - who was immediately assigned responsibility over district operations including transportation; 
  • created a rapid response room staffed by bus routers who can immediately respond to requests for changes or other route news;
  • appointed two internal communications liaisons who have been assigned to immediately escalate issues and communicate with principals daily; 
  • implemented an accountability process to monitor buses for pick-up and drop-off so CPS can identify buses that are on time or late;
  • added additional Metro bus service on the West Side to alleviate bus crowding on some routes.

The school is also advising parents to download the Versatrans app, which provides the location of an assigned school bus. The district will continue to work on other efficiencies through this school year and beyond, she says. 

Worley has repeatedly stated how CPS experienced unexpected growth this year - "We expected to grow by 400 kids; we've grown by 1,100 students," she says - and the district is immediately triaging the most problematic routes, such as the one at Clark Montessori High School, where overcrowding was a concern. 

"What we've done specifically to address the concerns of parents and students who attend Clark Montessori High School is to add additional buses to the new route so that every student has a seat," she says. "This does increase the overall cost of transportation to do that, but we believe its the right thing to do so that we can assure those parents that their kids will have a seat on the bus." 

Worley acknowledges this creates another issue, since the district's funding formula from the state will not change until 2022. Though the primary resource for CPS' budget is property taxes, the second source is the state funding formula, which, when last created, worked off 2018 CPS data. 

She says CPS' transportation was about $46 million last year using yellow buses and Metro, which has suffered its own problems