School Bus Fleet Solution: Greens Farms Station

The school buses parked at Staples High School that have annoyed neighbors with early morning noise and idling — and impacted parking in front of the building — may soon move.

Other buses may join them.

Their destination: the Greens Farms train station.

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice says, “We have worked collaboratively with the town. We expect by the beginning of next week to have most of the fleet stationed at Staples to be relocated to the Greens Farms train station. We are doing our best to get the entire fleet there. Concurrently, we continue to pursue permanent options.

Buses parked during the day at Staples High School. (Photo/Stefanie Lemcke)

“On a separate note, the last couple of weeks have shown demonstrably better arrival and departure times to and from school. The service continues to improve, and we are getting significantly more positive feedback from our school and our families.

“It is remarkable to continue to improve the level of performance in the face of some significant headwinds, such as pervasive traffic volume in town that is likely the new norm, a decentralized bus parking model at the schools at the current moment, and be continued struggle to fully staff our bus drivers.

“That said, given these challenges, we will never be perfect, and delays will occur from time to time. However, our focus is on the pattern of performance and ensuring we can deliver a consistent pattern over time high performance.

Several years ago, utility crews used the Greens Farms railroad station as a staging area. (Photo/Robert Cornfield)

“We have now had 2 separate bus companies recommend 45 minutes between our tiers. We have operated with 30 minutes between tiers for years.  Given what we see as a new normal for volume and traffic in town, this may need to be revisited again at some point. I shared this observation with the Board of Education recently.

“Since the contract was approved, and we had approval to park at our schools, we have continued from that moment on to pursue a range of long-term options.

“We knew that changing transportation providers, which had been a community priority for many years, even with special committees at the town and Board of Finance level, we would have to persist in resolving the parking challenge.

“We currently operate in an interim plan with a long-term plan being pursued. We will go back to Planning & Zoning on an ‘as needed’ basis to bridge the time between now and establishing a permanent parking solution.

“I am most optimistic. We will do this, and we will continue to provide markedly better service to our schools and families, as evidenced by the performance over the last couple of weeks.

“I could not be more appreciative of the patience of our families and schools in the interim.”

6 responses to “School Bus Fleet Solution: Greens Farms Station

  1. Does the town or BOE keep any stats regarding % of students at each school who actually use the bus vs. cars?

  2. There had been a proposal to have parents and their children commit (or not) to actually using the buses. My sense is that had not gotten any traction, though I thought it was a good idea.

  3. One would think that a private school bus service with a fleet of buses, would already have their own accommodations vs. relying on the Town to provide parking space. Maybe I’m being too logical?

  4. Most parents would love to have their children utilize the school buses, particularly after school, but with elementary and middle school finishing later, I have no choice but to pick up my children several days a week for after school activities, which for us start at 4.30pm and are mostly based in Norwalk. Regarding the bus, my elementary school child arrives home at 4.20pm. I know I’m far from alone in this conundrum.

    • Louise, you nailed it! That is a big reason why we see a dangerous situation everyday at our elementary schools at dismissal time.

      At some point, like the Wheels 2-You public transportation where empty buses have now become the norm with our school buses, studies and changes need to happen.

      I don’t see the BOE going back to reversing starting times, though it should be considered. Then again will parents buy in to having their kids take the buses home?

      The other issue is the “Home of The First Student Bus.”

      The Board of Education choose to change school bus vendors this year. I’m curious now what the “big savings” are to our community with buses being parked all over town.

      I doubt the Greens Farms Railroad temporary home is rent free. Fuel costs, especially diesel is quite expensive. We should all hope this is issue will be resolved before the 2024-2025 school year.

      Back to Safety of our kids, The BOE and Town cannot do this alone. A “buy in” has to happen from the parents to help us mitigate the safety concerns of what is now a very dangerous dismissal for our elementary children.

  5. Joseph Vallone, A.I.A.

    The Town purchases and owns our bus fleet. Can someone please explain why we do not have a pre-fabricated, Butler type, garage to contain the fleet? When we switch to an electric bus system (I’m not sure why we just purchased a new fleet with internal combustion motors?) the fleet can be charged during the night and in the late mornings, inside the garage.

    Here in southern New England, the investment in a municipal garage structure undoubtedly will add to the life expectancy of our fleet. Having our fleet subjected to the intense summer heat and the cold winter weather elements, demonstrates a lack of appreciation for the significant investment taxpayers make annually, to fund our public education system.

What do you think? Please comment! Remember: All commenters must use full, real names!