Report: IPS bus system gets failing grades

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Rich Van Wyk/13 Investigates

Indianapolis - The IPS bus system is gets failing grades from a new report. The report obtained by Eyewitness News finds terrible service, unanswered complaints and a lack of accountability. This comes on the heels of a 13 Investigates special report on problems with the company IPS hires to transport 27,000 students daily.

The independent report shows IPS buses failing children, parents and schools. An entire transportation system, the report says, is certainly not putting children first.

"Some of the (findings) are very disturbing," said IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene White, who requested the study.

"I think the findings are valid," he added.

A four-day inspection conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools documented widespread problems. It cited top managers for "a general lack of planning, coordination, and attention to detail..." and found, "the department has a reputation for late or no-show buses, inoperative equipment, and unsafe driving practices."

The report also concluded that complaints, by the thousands, " were not always responded to on a timely basis."

It affirmed what principals and parents have complained about for years.

"You say this is the bus stop, but did the bus stop here? No!" said Jimmie Mitchell, guardian.

After three weeks of complaining, Jimmie Mitchell says IPS finally sent a bus to take his niece to school.

"They send me from one person to that person. The principal contacted that person; my wife called," Mitchell said.

"Our communication and customer service is lousy. That's a fact. We will make that a priority," said Dr. White.

Other priorities could reduce costs and save taxpayers money.

The report found school buses operating nowhere near their capacity, a system that doesn't allow for the tracking of repair costs, and an operation allowing drivers to earn significant amounts of overtime, with one driver earning as much as $20,000 a year in overtime pay.

IPS is already working on reorganization plan. It includes holding drivers to administrators more accountable.

"They are going to have to do better or they won't be working in transportation for IPS. That will go from the top to the bottom. We are very serious about that," said Dr. White.

This report comes after a series of 13 Investigates reports documenting mechanical and safety problems with the fleet of buses IPS hires to transport students. The superintendent promises to reorganize and improve the bus system before next school year. Friday evening, we will look at how he plans to do that as well as other concerns in this report.

Read the report.

Read Part Two of this story where Dr. White talks about changes to come.