kitchen table math, the sequel: Royal Coach Lines

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Royal Coach Lines

email to the Parents Forum:

Hi everyone -

Our son Andrew is autistic. He is entitled by law to a summer program.

He is also entitled by law to bus transportation to the program.

However, as I write, it is 9:16 and Andrew is not at his program.

The reason?

According to the woman at ROYAL COACH LINES: “The driver sat in your driveway for 10 minutes and no one came out. So he called the dispatcher, and the dispatcher told him to leave.”

Note: the driver did not honk.

The reason the driver did not honk: it is illegal. We had no idea. We’ve been sending developmentally disabled kids to school on the bus for decades and the drivers have always honked. In fact, they’ve honked too much. This summer’s driver, whose arrival times have been unpredictable, honks.

BUT honking is illegal, and today’s driver –a sub – did not honk.

Nor did the driver simply step outside his bus and knock on our door. (Is that illegal?)

And the dispatcher did not call us once he’d heard from the driver.

In short, no one associated with ROYAL COACH LINES took initiative; no one went beyond the call of duty. No one took responsibility for actually doing the job we hire ROYAL COACH LINES to do.

And no one expressed the slightest regret that the job was not done. I spoke at some length with the lady who answered the phone at ROYAL COACH LINES. She appeared untroubled by the fact that ROYAL COACH LINES did not deliver Andrew to his program; in fact, she did not appear to think that failing to deliver a child to his program reflected poorly upon ROYAL COACH LINES in any way at all. ROYAL COACH LINES employees complied with the applicable rules and regulations, and they are entitled to collect their fee.

American taxpayers fund so much for kids, for seniors, for those with disabilities and hard luck: we deserve better than this. We deserve services that actually do the job we hire them to do.

Next summer, I think the district should find a different bus company. Surely we can do better than ROYAL COACH LINES.



Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the driver or the dispatcher didn't just call your house. That's what my son's bus driver has done in the past. This seems like a no-brainer to me. The dispatcher could have just called you.

I don't believe they can leave the bus if anyone is on it.


Anonymous said...

Why didn't the parent in this case look out the window?
Just curious...

Anonymous said...

Probably because they usually honk.

Catherine's driveway is also pretty long from what I understand, so I'm not sure she could see.

Also, occasionally they bus comes early if the driver leaves early or one of the kids isn't being picked up that day. I've had that happen a few times, but the driver usually just called and said they were outside.


lgm said...

Do you have the written copy of the procedure?

It's similar here.Our reg ed service went downhill big time when our local independent co sold to a nationwide co. BigCo won't commit to having the bus pull over & wait when it is ten plus minutes ahead of schedule, knowing that their stated procedure is to have the reg. ed. kids at the stop only 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Nothing like watching the bus sail by the stop without even the courtesy to stop, open the door, and wait for teens running up the road. This annoys me b/c the bus is just going to idle at the school with students req'd to remain on board until the official door opening time. BigCo won't allow drivers to pick up students that aren't assigned to that particular bus. LocalCo would pick up students who had missed their bus & flagged down another. LocalCo would pick up all walkers every morning that the windchill was 20F or less, whether the student was 2 blocks from school or 1 mile when he was spotted. BigCo drives on by.
LocalCo allowed the dispatcher to call homes when students that needed to be met at the stop were not met, while the bus waited at the stop. BigCo takes them all back to its office then starts calling. So much for humanity.
I hope you make some headway and get the procedure changed.

chicken said...

Just to make you mad I will tell you what the policy is here :)

If the driver arrives early he must wait until the scheduled time. Naturally, there may be traffic delays that make the driver late. Students should be outside, at their stop, five minutes before the stated time on the bus schedule. The driver must come to a complete stop, using the yellow and red lights and open the door. If no student is there to get on the bus, the driver is free to drive on.

Catherine Johnson said...

Why didn't the parent in this case look out the window?

We didn't look out the window because the regular driver doesn't come 'til 8am. The substitute driver came at 7:30am. That's assuming he actually found our driveway; it's entirely possible he was never here at all. We're off the GPS grid & tricky to find.

Assuming he did find our house, and did sit in the driveway for 10 minutes, he left 20 minutes before we expected him to show up, at which point we were looking out the window.

The regular driver was great, and I don't fault the sub. I fault management. Management should convey to employees the importance of problem solving when necessary, which is what the dispatcher did not do.

Earlier this summer, the regular driver changed her arrival time because the scheduled pick-up was too early. The kids were having to sit on the bus for half an hour before the teachers arrived at the school. That's crazy for any children, but it's completely untenable for autistic kids.

The substitute driver didn't know that the regular pick-up time had been changed.

The issue is basic human responsibility and commitment to getting the job done. The regular driver was terrific. She took the initiative to change the arrival time to make life easier on the kids; she also, on the few occasions when we didn't hear her in the driveway, VERY lightly tapped her horn. I didn't know a bus horn could be so quiet. She was considerate of the neighbors & warm and welcoming to the kids & parents, too.

Catherine Johnson said...

Nothing like watching the bus sail by the stop without even the courtesy to stop, open the door, and wait for teens running up the road.

That really is obnoxious.

Catherine Johnson said...

I hope you make some headway and get the procedure changed.

The funny thing is, the transportation guy here apparently started out being unsympathetic to say the least. Ed says that after he dealt with the bus company a couple of times, he was sounding pretty irritated with the company.