Omaha parents frustrated over issues with OPS bus service

It’s another school year and there are already concerns about getting our children to school on time
It's been a tough week for some parents and their kids as they started the new school year.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 9:49 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s been a tough week for some parents and their kids as they started the new school year. There have been issues with Omaha’s school bus service.

“We’ve added four new schools, so our student assignment plan is changed dramatically, families going to different schools, bus stops changing so bus routes are running different, so we’re still stabilizing routes.”

It’s another school year and there are already concerns about getting our children to school on time.

It’s been a rough start for Elisha Muhleka and her family. She received a letter in the mail last week from Student Transportation of America, contracted by Omaha Public Schools, showing her two sons where and when to pick up a bus.

But there’s a problem.

“We don’t actually have a driver assigned to our route,” said Muhleka.

So her boys waited for a bus that never came.

Just a few days into the new school year and we're hearing from OPS parents about problems with their kids getting picked up by school buses.

Other days, they weren’t given a ride home and Elisha had to leave work to pick them up. Then her fourth grader told her some chilling news.

“This morning he was already saying which I feel so bad, he was already saying that he doesn’t want to go to school because he doesn’t want to deal with this. I’m actually planning on trying to get out of work a little early to go grab him just so he doesn’t have to deal with it Friday afternoon,” said Muhleka.

“It’s frustrating and we understand that and we do apologize for that because we don’t want it to be frustrating for them. We’re a bit disappointed in STA and the services they provide initially they led us to believe that they were probably more ready than they are,” said Charles Wakefield, OPS chief operations officer.

Elisha says other children in her neighborhood are also having problems getting a bus ride to school. She had tried to get answers from STA and OPS but says she’s not getting any answers.

“I guess I’m just hoping to hear from somebody knowing that if there’s going to be a fix otherwise I’ll probably have to look into the before and after school programs so we don’t have to miss work. Probably just have to make alternate arrangements,” said Muhleka.

OPS contracts around 230 school buses from STA. Both OPS and STA are looking for more bus drivers, each offering signing bonuses.

Incidentally, students are not being counted as tardy if it’s due to a bus issue.