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Cincinnati Public, Metro making adjustments to bus plan after first school days

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Posted at 8:04 PM, Aug 20, 2021

CINCINNATI — Two days into the new school year, Cincinnati Public Schools and Cincinnati Metro are planning adjustments to a contentious change in the district's transportation plan.

CPS Board of Education member Mike Moroski said the first day gave glimpses into the parts of the plan that worked well and those that need tweaking.

"There were some pretty, I think, traumatic experiences for some families," he said. "I think there were some great experiences for some families."

For the last few weeks of summer, the school district and the transit authority had gone back and forth on what sort of bus service high school students could expect this fall. Previously, Metro provided specific routes with more direct access to the district's high school buildings for students to ride. A bus driver shortage exacerbated by the pandemic, though, caused Metro to have to cancel those routes.

Elementary school students in the district are transported by yellow buses.

The announcement triggered backlash from parents and the teachers union, and school and transit officials scrambled last week to put together a compromise plan that included adding back some routes, extra stops, and utilizing adult staff to help coordinate and chaperone students at key bus stops and locations.

"It could have been better; it wasn't totally catastrophic," Moroski said, applauding Metro bus drivers for their help in helping manage the changes.

"I had a lot of stories from out there in the field of Metro bus operators making it work for our kids, so I'm very grateful for that," he said.

Metro is owned and operated by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. Vice president for external affairs Brandy Jones said they anticipated some areas where adjustments would be necessary.

"Certainly there may be some hiccups on the way that we need to adjust, and I ask for parents' patience as we work through those things to make them better for the student families," she told WCPO. She said Metro only heard of a few minor issues on Wednesday, when classes resumed, and that Metro will continue to deploy staff at key stops to continue facilitating the transition.

Among the adjustments CPS will make immediately include training more district staff as crossing guards, asking the city for assistance in traffic control around school campuses before and after classes, and asking Metro to add new routes near Western Hills University High School and Walnut Hills High School.