The First Student bus driver who left some Central Bucks elementary school students stranded on their first day of school Tuesday has been placed on administrative leave, according to a spokesperson for the company.
Bonnie Bastian declined to identify the driver or why the morning route that services was missed. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the driver could face disciplinary action, up to and including termination, she said.
“This is totally unacceptable,” said Bastian. “It’s not something we can tolerate.”
Central Bucks School District spokeswoman Carol Counihan said Thursday morning that the district also is still investigating the incident.
She couldn't recall another instance of a driver simply not showing up at a stop.
"In the beginning of the year, they are always working out the glitches," she said. "Everybody is getting used to a new routine."
A new permanent driver has been put on the route, Counihan said.
The snafu came on the first day of school after the Central Bucks School Board to First Student, the largest school bus operator in North America with 60,000 buses and 67,500 employees in 650 locations in 42 states.
Despite complaints from parents and bus drivers who questioned First Student's reliability, the board agreed to the move because it was expected to save about $150,000 a year.
With the new routes this fall, First Student is responsible for about 125 of the district’s 300 daily bus runs. District officials have said they plan to continue outsourcing bus runs as a way to save money in the face of woeful drops in revenue.
Bastian said most of the students whose bus failed to show up Tuesday morning were able to be driven to school by their parents. A substitute driver was brought in and the afternoon run went off as scheduled, she said.
The incident report did not specify whether it was a veteran bus driver or someone who was new to the company, said Bastian. She also could not say if the route that was missed was one of those that were outsourced to First Student this fall.