Cincinnati Public Schools addresses concerns about students riding Metro buses

CINCINNATI — Kids across the Tri-State are heading back to school this month, but making sure they get there safely and on time is proving to be a challenge.

From struggling to staff enough bus drivers to navigate high gas prices, transportation has been a difficult issue for many districts including Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS).

“The end of the school year around transportation was a real challenge. And so there are a lot of individuals that are concerned about what transportation is going to look like this year,” said CPS superintendent Iranetta Wright.

This summer, the school board approved a new contract with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) that will allow students to ride Metro buses this upcoming school year.

“This year, all of our K-8 students will be on yellow buses,” Wright said. “Our ninth through 12th-grade students will still ride Metro to school… It is the community routes. And so that was one of the things that was really a concern.”

In the past, there were extra Metro routes specifically for CPS students but according to the district, that’s no longer the case. Now, students that have to ride Metro buses to school are forced to ride with regular passengers, not just other students. Woodward High School student Nia Brown is not happy about the change. She spoke out about the issues she’s faced back in May.

“We deal with having to see and listen to crack heads. Like they sing to us and the perverts they look at us,” Brown said. “It makes me feel weird because it makes me feel like I don’t want to get on the bus, even outside of going to school.”

Last spring, CPS parents and students, including Brown, voiced their concerns at city hall but according to the district, the resources to fix this issue do not exist.

“There is a national bus driver shortage. And many of us have experienced that shortage. So to make sure that our students get to school and get to school safely and on time, we are using the community routes,” Superintendent Wright said.

This answer isn’t good enough for those who are worried about the upcoming school year, but they don’t have much of a choice.

“I just deal with it,” Brown said. “We don’t feel like our voices are heard if we tell somebody because nothing happens.”

CPS said parents will receive postcards in the mail with more information on how their children can get to school using the Metro buses. These postcards will also serve as the students’ bus passes on the first day of class.

There will be a virtual transport information session for parents this Sunday at 4 pm

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