Buffalo Public Schools Parent congress held a public forum on transportation for Buffalo students Saturday at the Merriweather Library on Jefferson Street.
NFTA bus changes for students was up first. In September, NFTA issued different blue, green and red passes. These passes allow students to use the bus later at night and upperclassmen have the freedom of unrestricted routes.
"The intent was to make things better for our students and make things better and more accessable for our students," Nate Kuzma, BPS General Counsel said.
Student bus passes now only cost $57 instead of $75 and student can get a gold sticker for after school activities that allow them to ride the bus until 11pm.
For the most part, people at the forum were happy with the changes but there are still a few kinks to work out.
"So I was coming panicked about this whole 5:00 thing and now you solved that, so I am coming to say thank you now."
"We should have a fund so that safety concerns should be addressed immediately"
The second part of the forum focused on First Student and the bus driver shortage in Western New York. First Student representatives talked about their recruitment efforts have increased and how they want to be very selective with their drivers to get the best ones.
"We feel as desperate as you do quite frankly." Sean McCabe, Western New York General Manager at First Student said. When we do not have a driver to hand the keys to, we are pretty much tuck for the next driver to become available."
First student has hired 135 drivers since June and have another 75 in training and 46 are behind the wheel, Dawn Tighe, the recruitment and training director for first student said.
"Every day is improving and it is improving week by week, we have increased our training hours, we've increased our number of staff, we have increased our application flow," Tighe added.
Many parents and community members were not happy with their recent experiences with bus transportation. Many people also voiced their concerns with not having aids on the bus to help students with bus bullying and helping the bus driver with routes.
"My daughter's bus is constantly late in the morning, and I mean like 3xs late and I mean half and hour, 24 minutes to an hour and a half late."
"There is not just a driver shortage but a shortage of teacher aids on the bus."
"The first part about employee shortages, I think that's a horrible excuse, there's an easy solution... increase your wages."