School bus contractor First Student fielded 15 complaints since it resumed logging and documenting them for the Juneau School District.
With 36 routes running daily picks-ups and drop-offs, that works out to a complaint rate of roughly half a percent of all school bus trips from the second week of April through the end of the school year June 5. The complaints cover buses running early or late, missed stops and minor driving infractions such as failing to use a turn signal or driving too fast.
While the nature of these complaints doesn't appear serious, 15 complaints in two months does contrast with the school district and bus company's anecdotal report of only one school bus incident of note through the first six months of the school year - months when they had been ignoring contractual obligations to document bus complaints.
District spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett said she had talked with some of the complainants, who indicated their calls usually came after they noticed something had gone wrong more than once.
Kevin Hanson, First Student's local bus manager, did not return calls for comment.
The noteworthy incident occurred Feb. 18 when a substitute bus driver dropped off a 9-year-old girl alone and lost at the wrong stop on her first day on the route. That led to an Empire inquiry revealing the bookkeeping failure. School district Director of Administrative Services David Means and Hanson had been handling the reports on the phone and through occasional e-mails, but written reports weren't otherwise kept.
Shortly thereafter, the district administration resumed requiring records of bus incidents.
"There needs to be some documentation so that when questions arise, there will be a source," district spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett said at the time.
During the school year, First Student transports more than 1,300 riders a day in Juneau. The upcoming school year is its second of five under a contract worth about $2.7 million annually.
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