I see there are a lot of reports here slamming transportation companies for their individual treatment. I am here to tell anyone reading this of the concern I have for the children that this company transports, not the individual employee. First Student lies to school districts, they falsify documents, try to force mechanics to keep unsafe buses on the road, refuse to spend money to make them run properly, and threaten to terminate any employee who questions upper management on their irresponsible decision making. Seeing how this company works from a management position, I can honestly say that they do not keep their customers safety in mind. And their customers are school districts, and essentially, the parents of the children in them. The terminal I worked for intentionally lied to the district about the age of the fleet, the mechanical condition of the fleet, and the date of when new buses were to be in service.
When the transportation director of the district called me, the former shop manager, and asked when we were receiving the new buses promised for the upcoming year, I told him the truth. He called me because he knew I would give him an honest answer and the terminal manager would not. I told him we had no new buses and we would start the school year with what we had. Well, this was in breach of the contract. The buses, as per the contract, could not be run past 10 years. We were running them past that with no new ones to replace them even though the regional operations manager had promised the new ones for the start of the season. When the terminal manager and regional operations manager were confronted by the district, they were furious with me for telling the truth. In order to save the contract, they sent all the old buses they could to another district hoping that inner city district would not notice, and swapped them with the newer ones from that district with ours. We were then forced in the shop to prep these buses for our district with only a two week window. But it was still not enough buses to fulfill the contract needs. The rest they had shipped in from all over the country. Well, lets just say there was a reason no one else wanted these buses. They were newer, but were damaged almost beyond repair. When the state police and us refused to pass them for safety reasons, the company still did not want to spend them money to put them on the road safely and legally. Instead, they threatened all of our jobs if we did not pass them and get the state police to pass them. Reluctantly we did , but barely. Over the next year we struggled to keep these piles of scrap on the road with virtually no money for parts to properly maintain them.
I come from a military background and am used to doing more with less when necessary, but this was not necessary. Not in the civilian sector, not with children's safety, not with millions of dollars worth of a contract (5 million to be precise). With the money a large company like this has, there was absolutely no reason to do what they did to the children, parents, and the school district. I left the company and am much happier where I am now, however, I think this information needs to be made as public as possible. It has been a number of years now, and I am tired of keeping silent. I want to see the company held responsible for the decisions they make and I hope someone reading this will spread the word. It is not right to do what they do in the school transportation industry, but they are the largest school bus contractor in North America. With shrinking school budgets, districts often have no choice. But there has to be something better. This company needs to be held to a higher standard. Our children deserve better and the taxpayers should not have to see their money go to corporate profit instead of student safety. We are better than this in this country, the country I have served for over a decade in addition to private sector employment. Anyone reading this, spread the word. Please don't let this company get away with what they are doing to the public.