Report: IPS buses skip routes
Indianapolis - Some school buses did not hit Indianapolis roads Thursday morning. The same school buses have been under inspection following a 13 Investigates report last month.
According to Indianapolis Public School officials, at least 13 drivers refused to drive their First Student buses. The district is still investigating. At this point IPS is not certain how many routes were missed, or how many children were left standing at the curb Thursday morning.
Arlington High School sounded the alarm when three buses were no-shows. IPS says First Student never notified the district of its problems.
"They have tremendous culpability in the whole situation because they did not notify us either, so that's part of the investigation," said Dr. Eugene White, IPS superintendent. "By the time we got notification from them, our people contacted them to see what was going on."
First Student is downplaying the incident, saying three buses were just slightly late at arriving at Arlington HS. The company said it was unaware of the claim that 13 drivers refused to get into their buses and run routes.
It is yet another concern for the company responsible for two-thirds of the IPS bus routes. An Eyewitness News investigation recently found scores of mechanical problems with First Student buses. State Police investigators sidelined numerous buses for safety violations.
On Wednesday, they stopped two more buses for surprise inspections. On both buses, State Police inspectors found that warning alarms on the emergency exits didn't work. They also found that one bus lacked a certificate saying that its brakes and kingpin had passed a critical semi-annual inspection.
The citations and the likelihood of stiff fines and points assessed against their licenses may have provoked the job action.
"But there's no excuse for them to leave children standing out, not going to school, so it's inexcusable for them not to run their routes. So we're very concerned about that. We're still trying to get to the bottom of just what this is all about," said Dr. White.
IPS says it is now working with First Student to prevent similar problems Friday morning.
Broken Buses - Read all of 13 Investigates' special reports