Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti families asked to critique WISD bus service in survey
AnnArbor.com file photo
Washtenaw Intermediate School District transportation officials created an online survey that will be available until April 12. Paper copies can be obtained by contacting each school's main office.
Ann Arbor Public Schools entered into a consolidated busing consortium through the WISD with Ypsilanti and Willow Run at the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year. AAPS also implemented route changes, a 1.5-mile walk zone and went to common stops for high-schoolers that year to further slash costs.
The survey feedback will be used to help school officials provide improved busing experiences for children. The questions ask parents to weigh how safely their students are being transported to school, as well as how clean and professional their bus driver and bus aides' appearances are.
Parents also are asked about whether communication with their bus drivers is effective, whether the drivers arrive to their stops and schools on time, whether phone calls to the transportation office are handled efficiently and whether the transportation office staff is helpful, courteous and provides accurate information.
WISD Transportation Director Tom Moore said a few questions from last year's survey were removed, such as those that asked about the cleanliness of the inside of the buses. He said the question was not really applicable to most parents, who don't get on the buses unless they volunteer for a field trip.
Moore said the survey results take about a month to sort and analyze by district, response and survey participant, either parents or school personnel.
"We hold team meetings to strategize on the areas the community wants to see improvement in. And we brainstorm ways to address any service issues that come out of those surveys," Moore said.
The WISD then presents the survey results to the individual districts, "because the possible needs of one district or the concerns of one district may be different from the others," he said.
Moore added ultimately, the WISD is in charge of implementing the school districts' policies on transportation, so issues like the length of the bus ride would need to be worked out at the local level.
"We want to help the districts and the school boards recognize what their constituents may have a concern with."
Ypsilanti and Willow Run began operating out of a joint transportation office and bus garage this school year. The districts spent $405,745 during the summer renovating the former Willow Run transportation facility, the Sampson Building, near the middle and high school complex at 145 Spencer Lane, to accommodate both districts' buses. The shared facility has been "working out quite well," Moore said, but the survey will provide more insight into how the transition has been for families.
Moore said the WISD will begin devising and developing bus runs for the new consolidated Ypsilanti Community Schools as soon as the board and the community subcommittees decide on building configurations for the district, which should be in March. He said once school leaders determine which buildings will be used and which grades each building will house, the WISD transportation department will get to work.
WISD officials ask that only parents with students in these three school districts — Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Willow Run — take the customer service satisfaction survey.