Moms who hired school bus service left in the lurch on kids' first day

CINCINNATI -- When they learned Oak Hills High School did not offer bus service, Barbara Fortman and Kim McMahan began looking for another way to get their freshmen to school. They settled on contracting Queen City Transportation, a company that claimed to have been providing "safe and reliable school bus transportation for over 50 years," to shuttle their children back and forth.

The company took their money. By Tuesday evening -- hours after the first day of school at Oak Hills High had ended -- that was all it had done. Repeated attempts to make contact with the company bore no fruit.

"I'm frustrated; I'm angry," Fortman said. "I'm just in awe that this company could do this to these kids."

McMahan and Fortman had to scramble for last-minute transportation options, arriving late to work and making frantic calls to relatives to ensure their children would make it to school. Their attempts to communicate with Queen City Transportation and find the source of their confusion led only to phone tag and promises that follow-up calls were on their way.

"We are talking five voicemails, an email and a hand-delivered note," McMahan said. "I drove to the location on their website and a location I was given by another mom. They're not there. It's just an empty building and a gravel lot."

The confusion turned a day that should have been exciting into one filled with stress, she said. Her exasperation with the company is only part of it.

"There are families that don't have backup," she said. "They are solely relying on the school bus."

Queen City Transportation manager Jim Ring said Wednesday the confusion was a result of overbooking and delayed processing of students' applications. He promised buses would be on schedule Thursday and families would receive refunds for their August service.

When asked about McMahan and Fortman's claims they had been attempting to contact the company for weeks with no success, he declined to comment.

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