Parents unhappy some Wichita students ride city buses

Posted: Updated:

There are some parents who are unhappy that their high school students have been assigned to ride on public buses.

"It's only a matter of time before a huge problem occurs and I don't believe any child should be put in any type of situation going to and from school where they could be harmed mentally physically, period," said Sarah Click, who has a son with special needs. 

Click learned her son was on a city bus from a friend's daughter.

"I was like, 'Whoa, slow down. What do you mean you're on a city bus?' Like we were not informed you guys were on city buses," said Click.

About 800 high schools students have been assigned city buses, operated by Wichita Transit, instead of yellow buses, operated by First Student. A total of about 16,000 Wichita students are eligible for busing.

But this is not the first school year that Wichita Schools have used city buses.

Last year, groups of Southeast High School students were assigned city buses and slowly, the district expanded to other schools. 

"As the routes changed, more community members are getting on buses now. But community members were able to get on buses last year," said Fabian Armendariz, USD 259 Division Director of Operations.

Armendariz said city buses are necessary because they are down 40 school bus drivers. But, he maintains that safety remains their top priority.

"We feel comfortable and confident that Wichita Transit is a safe mode to get students to school. This is not unusual for large cities," said Armendariz.

Wichita Transit buses have at least five cameras on and off the bus that are recording video and sound. In addition, city buses are considered a "SafePlace," which is a local program that enables kids to get to a safe place when they feel they are lost or in danger.

"I want to assure all of our families that safety is the number one concern of ours and we feel confident that Transit is able to provide that service to our families," said Armendariz.

Parents with concerns regarding the USD 259 Transportation Department can call (316) 973-2190.

To learn more about riding Wichita Transit to school, click here.

Armendariz also had this message to parents who felt there was a lack of communication regarding the change:

"I would apologize to those families that we weren't communicating accordingly. Moving forward, we have a plan in place."

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