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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2010 :  05:00:10 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Local 12 Investigation Into First Student Bus Company

Last Update: 6/25 5:16 pm


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Local 12 Investigation Into First Student School Bus Contract

More Cincinnati students may be walking to school this fall. The Cincinnati Board of Education is considering whether to reduce busing in order to save a million-and-a-half dollars. The financially strapped district may force about 2800 kids who now ride the bus to hoof it by pushing out the boundaries for mandatory bus service.

But whatever the boundaries, there are questions about what CPS and it's 35,000 students are getting for the money, your money, from the school bus contractor. Local 12 reporter Jeff Hirsh began investigating this back at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. Here's what he found.

At the Cunningham house, getting ready for school is pretty much like at everybody else's house. Mom Candace walks 12 year old Mikala and 10 year old Malik to the bus stop, where everyone waits and hopes, hopes bus route number 335 will show up on time. "That's the bus. This bus is always late".

Which for the bus company, First Student is apparently nothing new. First Student has the contract for Cincinnati Public Schools. But there's a stack of nearly 800 complaints and follow-ups. Candace Cunningham's says this is the 7th or 8th time bus has not shown up. First Student, she says, is a disaster. "You feel like you're getting the run around? Yes, I do".

So do a lot of others. Parents saying things like the bus does not come at least two days a week. "I am tired of my child getting to school late, missing curriculum, and I am in the process of losing my job due to the tardiness of the bus".

And it's not just parents who are complaining about First Student. There are teachers and principals who are also fed up. "Transportation is key to running our school. We do need quality bus service for all of our kids."

Bill Shula is principal of St. Francis Desales Elementary School, an inner city Catholic School where most kids are not Catholic. They come here from all over for the education. Shula is one of the principals who complained about late buses and kids not being picked up. "The question we had were they able to handle it. Obviously they weren't able to handle it at the beginning of the year."

First Student was supposed to make things better and cheaper. In 2008-09, Cincinnati Public Schools divided its bus routes among three different contractors: First Student, Petermann, and Riggs. But beginning in 2009-10, that all changed. Based on promises of increased efficency and 8 million dollars in savings, the school board, on a 4-3 vote, gave First Student an exclusive, 5-year, 91-million dollar contract.

Cincinnati Public Schools has fined first student more than $28,000, for hundreds of service problems, late buses, missing stops, fines allowed in the contract. Things did improve as the school year went on, but critics say there were still serious shortcomings: "If there's an accident, a problem, the driver has to have the children evacuate the bus, safely have the kids get off the bus."

Under state law, within the first two weeks of school, a bus safety instruction seminar is required for all students kindergarten through grade three. First Student did not get around to that until March, which kind of defeats the purpose when the school year is almost over. And three actual evacuation drills are also required on board the bus for all kids during the year, those did not even start until Mid-May.

Shula also says previous bus companies would contact the school at the end of each quarter, asking for feedback on how to improve service: "We have not gotten anything to respond back to the bus company as a follow up on their part."

But if a lot of parents and school principals say First Student's service is second rate, there's another issue with the bus contractor as well, making a big deal about delivering on something, and not doing so. Specificially, new buses.First Student told CPS it would spend millions of dollars to buy 256 brand- new buses the first year of the contract, giving the city an average fleet age of 2.6 years. First Student said it would spend 17.4 million dollars on those buses, and added in short, the buses are already being built. CPS bought the argument.

But there's a problem. First Student has not provided 256 new buses to Cincinnati Public Schools, not even close. Late last year, we asked First Student to document the age of each bus it uses in Cincinnati. First Student spokesperson Glenda Lamont said no... too much paperwork to check. Go to the state, she said. So we did.

Documents from the state of Ohio show First Student only has about 130 new buses in Cincinnati. Why does this matter? Well, if First Student is not buying those new, fuel efficient buses, it's First Student which is saving millions of dollars, without passing those savings along to the Cincinnati school system and Cincinnati taxpayers. First Student got to buy older, cheaper buses, but the amount CPS is paying them for the contract did not go down.

Terry Elfers is chief operating officer for Cincinnati Public Schools. Elfers says First Student asked to postpone buying all 256 new buses "after" the school board voted for First Student. Elfers says he let First Student buy 100 older buses from a losing bidder, Riggs, with the understanding that First Student would buy more new buses down the road. "Can you amend the contract without going back to the board for a vote? Oh absolutely".

The school board was never asked if it was okay for First Student to back out of 256 new buses, and buy 100 used ones. In fact, the board was never even informed it had happened until months after the used buses were bought and were on the streets. "I think the board became aware in late winter that the purchase had already been made". Eve Bolton is Vice President of the school board, one of three board members who voted against the exclusive contract for First Student, questioning First Student's ability to do the job well while saving Cincinnati taxpayers money. "Give First Student a grade. On financial savings I would say D, on service, D".

Bolton is not pleased that First Student has 100 fewer new buses than the company's sales pitch promised. "Indeed some of the selling points about keeping fuel costs in check is that we would be having a large portion of the fleet being new and more fuel efficient".

The administration says it let First Student off the 256 new bus hook in reaction to school board comments, concerns that local bus companies not getting the contract would be hit hard, and their drivers would be out of a job: "The request for First Student to do what it could to minimize the impact on Petermann and Riggs came from the board before the vote and was part of the discussion on the vote".

Bolton says the board was concerned about local companies, and particularly about drivers losing jobs, but for the administration to see that as a green light to let First Student buy 100 old buses from a losing bidder is, well: "It certainly is a stretch to say buying Riggs buses would alleviate our concern about local entities".

Indeed, if you watch the video or listen to the audio of the school board meetings where votes were taken on the bus contract, there is no suggestion by any board member that First Student get out of buying 256 new buses and buy 100 used ones, none whatsoever.

First Student would not put anyone on camera about this. Spokesperson Maureen Richmond did say by phone that CPS gave them permission to buy Riggs, and "we were a good corporate citizen" by buying a losing bidder's buses. But that good corporate citizen would not say how much it saved by buying the 100 used buses.

So we did some checking with industry sources, and here's a reasonable ballpark estimate. A new school bus costs around $75,000. Price of a used bus depends on age and condition, we'll estimate $25,000 apiece. Here's the math. 100 new buses at $75,000 each, 7 and a half million dollars. 100 used buses, two and a half million dollars.

"By buying older buses First Student saved a lot of money. Are they passing those savings along to the board? We have not noticed it in the First Student contract nor in the line item for transportation which is actually going up, but yes, if they saved a lot of money it should be used to improve the service or reduce the cost to taxpayers the Cincinnati School District".

First Student says the service it's providing is good, they say buses are more than 99 per cent on time. And Terry Elfers says the hundreds of complaints are just a fraction of the thousands of students transported. "What grade would you give First Student on their service? B-plus, A-minus".

First Student also points out, and they are correct, that the contract requires no buses over 12 years old, and an average fleet age of 8 years, they do meet both of those conditions. But 256 new buses was a key part of First Student's sales pitch. What if that pitch included old, used buses and millions of dollars less in savings instead? Would First Student have won the contract then? Remember, the vote for First Student was only 4-3: "Would First Student have gotten the bid if they had not said we'll buy 256 new buses? There's no way to know".

School board member Bolton says the First Student contract should be reviewed, with an eye towards making changes: "It may be the administration's budget but it's the people's money and the board is ready and willing to be protective of the people's money".

Meantime Candace Cunningham is hoping her kids' bus will show up on time, however old that bus may be. "I wake up every morning wondering gee I don't know what it is gong to be like today".

First Student is also currently on probation with the state of Ohio. The company was fined$50,000 for inadequate record keeping in the Dayton area. The Ohio Department of Public Safety says First Student could lose the right to transport kids in Ohio if it violates the probation, which includes monthly random audits by an independent third party.


Article:
http://www.local12.com/news/local/story/Local-12-Investigation-Into-First-Student-Bus/7ks9PD8vPkiwgKTZPUEckw.cspx

JK
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USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2010 :  09:23:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Include some back room deal-making, a few dead bodies and perhaps some terrorist money and this thread’s story might make a good movie made for TV. I would title such a movie, “The Contract.”

Cincinnati Public Schools is typical of school boards that move from blaming the bus driver to blaming the contractor for their own poor decision making. I'm not fond of FS, but neither am I fond of politicians and bureaucrats that attempt to escape accountability for their own decision making shortcomings.

The most cost savings, even with better wages and benefits for the bus drivers, comes from a well run school owned student transportation service. The CPS school board made the decision to wipe out two contractors when making their bargain with FS. Did they compensate those contractors for their losses?

FS then acquires permission to purchase 100 buses from the two affected contractors, a cost savings to FS, not a demonstration of a good corporate citizen's compassion for the competition.

It's about the money, not about either party’s compassion, in my opinion.

The age of the buses remained within the contract. The savings belongs to FS, not to the so-called "peoples money" that the district attempts to present within their distortion of the facts, if not outright lying to the public.

FS made their sales pitch and the resulting contract is what contracts can turn out to be, sort of an agreement that favors the most creative party. The details are managed within the reality of both party’s ethics.

FS may be providing poor service, a separate issue, but the school board made the decision to become greedy. The board let their own greed wipe out what now appears may have been a better arrangement prior to the school board triggering FS to become a singularity, which in turn sent two other contractors and the people’s money into a black hole.

Over time the long-sight may have actually saved the quality of the service and also produced better results using the peoples money to get kids safely to and from school. (jk)

NEW FOR 2010 SCHOOL YEAR!
Stopping bullying on the school buses - Fast Track slide presentation to help stop bullying on the school buses. Includes class handouts. Free to use in self-study, for class training, and for presentation to the school board. Click Here for Link (See Post # 14)

Edited by - JK on 07/03/2010 09:40:54 AM
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2010 :  03:34:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
FS is broke or acting broke, the employees and customers are paying for Laidlaw.
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Thomas Ford 85-16
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USA
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Posted - 07/04/2010 :  06:47:19 AM  Show Profile  Visit Thomas Ford 85-16's Homepage  Send Thomas Ford 85-16 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Detroit Public Schools did the same thing by contracting to First Student, wiping out local contractors (some 40+ years old) DHT, ABC Student Transportation, and Safeway Transportation...as if we need more money heading out of Detroit. DHT had 100% inspection rates for the Michigan State Police (124/124), Safeway 99% (74/75), and ABC was with the state average of 85% (87/102). I give these stats to indicate they were good contractors. It will be interesting to see if DPS runs into the same problems that Cincinnatti has. The new arrangment starts this fall.

Mike's Bus Yard - http://buses.zwebpages.com - Since 1999
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2010 :  09:10:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Not so fast, ABC is getting 25% and S/W 15% (they had to sue for that). DHT is a Skokie, Il based firm with a pretty bad safety record, little girl run over in their lot and one killed on a bus within a month, I know a lot about DHTs parent company ALLTOWN wouldn't let them bus my kids.

Seems passing bus inspections does not mean much in Detroit, they passed unfit buses for DPS, and that's a sin.

Edited by - WallyG on 07/04/2010 09:39:51 AM
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Sherm
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USA
525 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2010 :  11:13:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
FS just took over all contracted transportation for Columbus Public Schools, too. I'm sure the issues in Cincy will pop up here, too.
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2010 :  12:13:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yeah but they are doing their 60 IPs and 100% on CPA purchases, oh yeah they also have plenty of conference calls, best day in the last 10 years when I said good buy to that 2bit, knee jerk managed operation.
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Thomas Ford 85-16
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USA
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Posted - 07/06/2010 :  08:47:55 AM  Show Profile  Visit Thomas Ford 85-16's Homepage  Send Thomas Ford 85-16 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WallyG

Not so fast, ABC is getting 25% and S/W 15% (they had to sue for that). DHT is a Skokie, Il based firm with a pretty bad safety record, little girl run over in their lot and one killed on a bus within a month, I know a lot about DHTs parent company ALLTOWN wouldn't let them bus my kids.

Seems passing bus inspections does not mean much in Detroit, they passed unfit buses for DPS, and that's a sin.


DHT was started in Detroit, sold to Alltown in 2002. ABC is still involved because of a partnership with First Student. So the contract was not awarded to ABC. That is a newer development though, as is the Safeway thing. I only know these things now because I looked into it again after reading your comments. My initial information was from March, when it was all going to First Student.

That being said, a Michigan State Police inspection is a Michigan State Police inspection. It's the same throughout the state. When the DPS-owned fleet has a miserable inspection pass rate when most of those local contractors had spotless ones, I think that says something.

Mike's Bus Yard - http://buses.zwebpages.com - Since 1999
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/06/2010 :  6:49:18 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
ABC has no connection with First Student, no partmnership no relationship what so ever.

I often wonder what pot you folks were sitting on when you hear BS like this.

As for inspections, DPS was running marginal buses, no money is not an excuse for running unsafe buses.
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Thomas Ford 85-16
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USA
4165 Posts

Posted - 07/07/2010 :  04:35:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit Thomas Ford 85-16's Homepage  Send Thomas Ford 85-16 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
[qupte]
The winning bidder to provide the new service was Transportation Service Providers, a partnership of Detroit-based ABC Student Transportation and Cincinnati-based First Student. Transportation Service Providers was one of five firms the evaluation team reviewed.

http://www.detroit.k12.mi.us/news/article/1866/
[/quote]

That's why ABC is still invovled. No pot here you bully.
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JC_Theriault
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114 Posts

Posted - 07/07/2010 :  08:30:42 AM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I think he got you on that one WallyG - after all its the school board who is stating the obvious partnership between the two companies.
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/07/2010 :  2:50:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The article was poorly worded to indicate FS would do 75% and ABC 25% of the routes that was until Safeway sued for 15% - DPS gave it to them rather than fight.

NO PARTNERSHIP between FS and ABC - trust me I know of what I speak.

They may have aluded to the route split but there is no arms length relationship.
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JC_Theriault
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114 Posts

Posted - 07/07/2010 :  4:12:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I wouldn't blame it on poor wording by the writer - who is employed by the school board, the link is to the DPS's own website and states: "The winning bidder to provide the new service was Transportation Service Providers, a partnership of Detroit-based ABC Student Transportation and Cincinnati-based First Student. Transportation Service Providers was one of five firms the evaluation team reviewed."

That tells me that ABC and FB were counted as one proposal under the TSP name.

Of course that same website also provides more recent info which makes the matter more confusing:
http://www.detroit.k12.mi.us/news/article/1932/

Edited by - JC_Theriault on 07/07/2010 4:13:17 PM
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2010 :  3:49:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sorry palsomeone has the brown smelly end of this stick, I cannot go any further but I can say with full knowledge ABC & FS have no "partnership" it was an open bid situation.

Any more and I will have to identify who I am and why I know this as the truth. Again I am done with this thread.
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Salaskie
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USA
453 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2010 :  3:54:35 PM  Show Profile  Send Salaskie an AOL message  Send Salaskie a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
"Utilizing three companies will provide greater flexibility."
Quote from the article linked by JC.



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JC_Theriault
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114 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2010 :  6:09:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thats fine WallyG, it would be nice if the school board issued clarification on the principles behind the alleged partnership called Transportation Service Providers other than the blurb in the press release. And you'd think one of the two "partners" would issue a public announcement to distance themselves from incorrect information released by the board.
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JC_Theriault
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114 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2010 :  6:18:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
More interesting reading:

Rally to save outsourced jobs

By Eric T. Campbell
Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Robert Bobb, state-appointed emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, announced in February his intention to fully outsource school bus services. Now, drivers and mechanics, whose jobs are in jeopardy, are fighting back.

They’ve lobbied legislators in Lansing to reinstate their contract and have taken to the streets, rallying March 15 in large numbers at Bobb’s unveiling of his forthcoming ‘academic plan.’

Drivers say Bobb and his Chief Operating Officer, Terry Burgess, used an irregular and flawed bidding process to turn 75 percent of district transportation services over to First Student.

Until now, the job of transporting Detroit school children was filled by the DPS itself, and the remaining 58 percent was contracted to three Detroit based companies —Safeway Transportation, ABC Transportation and DHT Transportation.

First Student Transportation, of Cincinnati, is owned by FirstGroup plc, based in the United Kingdom. That company had the U.S. equivalent of $279 billion in revenues in 2009.

Bobb paid $85,000 to First Student in April 2009 to do a district-wide analysis of the DPS transportation system. That study provided the basis for the Request For Proposals (RFP), the guidelines for bidders, released during the summer. First Student was allowed to bid.

Among those losing their jobs with the District’s switch to First Student are the 80 employees at Safeway Transportation. Bobb’s decision has ended a 36-year history between Safeway and DPS.

Drivers’ spokesperson Wilhelmina Cleveland said only First Student, and no other bidder, was privy to DPS’ records and vendors’ histories.

“It just seems like there’s something unfair about the way they [First Student] came in and were allowed to look at all the terminals,” said Cleveland.

According to Cleveland, Bobb could not find fault with Safeway.

“They cannot say it is because we’ve had a lot of problems, because our record with the state is excellent,” Cleveland said.

The consulting agreement between DPS and First Student, signed by Bobb, was entered into on April 16, 2009, and did not preclude First Student from getting other DPS business including transportation services.

Although unable to confirm who actually wrote the transportation RFP, Safeway President Patricia Whitlow says that the original RFP draft released last summer covered only DPS’ portion of the transportation duties and left the routes serviced by Safeway and DHT untouched. However, First Student’s contract with DPS now includes all bus service.

“There’s a blatant difference between what the three vendors were told and what is in the contract,” Whitlow told the Michigan Citizen.

Whitlow adds that the $85,000 DPS paid to First Student for consulting services guaranteed them an inside track to the bus contract through a slanted RFP.

“Imagine spending $85,000 on a recommendation report and then not using it,” Whitlow says.

“First Student had access to Safeway’s operation as well as the other two member vendors,” says Wes Ganson, chair of the Detroit School Board Advisory Committee. “It’s illegal by any bidding standard.”

The winning bidder for the DPS transportation contract, announced Feb. 23, is described as a partnership between First Student Inc. and Detroit-based ABC Transportation. First Student will received 75 percent of the five year deal worth $112 million a year.

Robert Bobb has emphasized cost savings to the district as the main motivation for further outsourcing bus service to Detroit students. Bobb has projected annual savings of $8.1 million under the new contract. First Student has also committed to purchasing the district’s fleet of 284 buses for $5.1 million, relieving the district of further short term capital investment in the fleet.

Bobb has also stated that all current DPS employees will be given the opportunity to transition to First Student staff, subject to First Student hiring rules and procedures. He has not specifically addressed the plight of employees working for bus service vendors like Safeway. Efforts to reach spokespersons for DPS were unsuccessful by the time this article went to print.

Safeway employees are not waiting for Bobb to address their plight and have taken action to have their portion of the bus contract reinstated. Safeway representatives held a meeting with the Council of Baptist Ministers on March 15, which was attended by Bobb. Although Safeway President Patricia Whitlow says that no resolution was reached, another meeting was planned.

“Our money is leaving the country,” Whitlow insists.

Supporters of DPS bus drivers also drove to Lansing in 20 buses to meet with St. Rep. Bert Johnson and other members of the Detroit caucus to voice their opposition to the way DPS has handled the bus contract. According to Whitlow, House Speaker Andy Dillon assured the contingent that he would speak to Governor Jennifer Granholm about the matter.

Rep. Johnson told the Michigan Citizen that legislation that limits the amount of outside vendors needs to also apply to the emergency financial manager.

“I’m not sure if the process by which Bobb puts out RFPs is a standard process,” Johnson told the Michigan Citizen. “You have to offer the home team the first right of refusal.”

Obie Trice, a Safeway driver for six years and General Motors worker for 30, was one of about a hundred protestors who positioned themselves outside of Renaissance High School before Bobb’s academic plan presentation on March 15.

Johnson says that last year’s bidding process was slanted in favor of First Student from the beginning.

“Safeway is a small business that has been dedicated for over 35 years to the citizens of Detroit and the DPS system. There have been many months when this company worked without pay. We did not want to see our children absent from school,” Trice told the Michigan Citizen. “The operation manager, Terry Burgess, gave First Student the advantage that he didn’t give the rest of the vendors. What we’re out here protesting is the techniques that Terry Burgess and Robert Bobb used to usher in the people that they wanted to receive those contracts.”
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JK
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USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2010 :  7:47:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Well, maybe Detroit would make for a better movie. Looks like the backroom deals is covered. Now for a few major interference personalities dying in mysterious car crashes, maybe blowup a bus yard of buses and blame it on terrorists, toss some distractive terrorist money linked in somehow and we have a script for ...

The Contract


Just saying. I must be in one of those annoying moods today. (jk)

NEW FOR 2010 SCHOOL YEAR!
Stopping bullying on the school buses - Fast Track slide presentation to help stop bullying on the school buses. Includes class handouts. Free to use in self-study, for class training, and for presentation to the school board. Click Here for Link (See Post # 14)

Edited by - JK on 07/08/2010 7:53:21 PM
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  05:16:10 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
And the circus continues. I could write a book.
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JC_Theriault
Senior Member

114 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  05:48:38 AM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The only circus I see is First Student being hired to do a busing audit for the school board then being allowed to submit an RFP after having access to financial and operational details about their competitors. Sounds like a mattress store in Detroit sold FS and the Board a very comfortable bed to share.
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JK
Top Member

USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  08:52:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WallyG

And the circus continues. I could write a book.



And I would read it.

I can not envision any company having the level of access to their competitors that FS was provided and that access not have a multitude of effects on the outcome of the reports. $112 million a year from anywhere doing anything most likely would attract some vultures into the mix of activities.

If it was not illegal for a growing monopoly to have this level of access to their competitors operations, to then become one of the bidders, well then it certainly ought to be.

I can not imagine FS ever allowing that level of penetration into their operations had the study been assigned to an independent source. Nor could any study likely be very accurate without that penetration.

A "projected annual savings of $8.1 million under the new contract" is the bait to watch. Too often the savings excuse turns out a fallacy or worse over time. It is one of those situations that when the truth is discovered in the numbers down the road it can be too late to recover.

According to the experts we all carry cancer cells around in our bodies. Those cells are usually restrained from taking over the body. When the cancer figures out how to monopolize itself that is when the risk to the rest of the body escalates.

The eventual outcome is similar within all sorts of systems. The cost of a system to remain in bed with a cancer would seem suicide, but the shortsighted perceive the arrangement less than the cost for the cure.

It eventually all becomes too big for parents or schools to confront, not until forced to do so after the entire financial monster collapses upon it's own compulsion to consume all in its path.

Preventive works better than cures, results in less damage to all involved, in my opinion. Regardless, and when no successful intervention occurred, I would think this at least in part is because government has become so big and comfortable with its own consumption that big government can no longer see the dangers that big presents.

What I see is just another big school district falling prey to a form of cancer that is consuming another part of that system. Was it our own body we would know that without a cure that works late in the game we would probably die.

I believe some of these big systems that persist in consuming until becoming a monopoly know that doing this thing may eventually lead to their end. Nothing odd or mysterious about that. A lost knowledge perhaps but not a mystery. But monopolies are optimistic sorts – always looking for the cure and the cake to eat too.

How many here can find in our own lives those behaviors that are killing us sooner than intended to happen? And yet we keep doing it day after day and on and on until eventually filling a hole in the ground with whatever could not be made use of by someone else.

Nothing new, nothing mysterious - just another funeral to plan for at some point in the future.

May Laidlaw rest in peace. (jk)

NEW FOR 2010 SCHOOL YEAR!
Stopping bullying on the school buses - Fast Track slide presentation to help stop bullying on the school buses. Includes class handouts. Free to use in self-study, for class training, and for presentation to the school board. Click Here for Link (See Post # 14)

Edited by - JK on 07/09/2010 09:09:36 AM
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JK
Top Member

USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  10:12:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Found this presentation on YouTube: Dr. Fleming analyzes the welfare mentality of Safeway Transportation since being fired by Robert Bobb & DPS. Click Here for video

And this...

Detroit Public Schools To Privatize Bus Services

Leonard Gilroy

February 25, 2010
The Reason Foundation

The Detroit News weighs in on the plans to privatize school bus services in that city (emphasis mine):

The state-appointed emergency financial manager of the Detroit Public Schools will cut the cost by privatizing bus service and relying more heavily on city buses.

Even though privatization has been an ugly word in Detroit, this is a prudent move by Bobb and places the priority for education dollars where it should be: in the classroom. The move in part to contract out transportation to private companies will save about $50 million over five years, money that will help reduce a $300 million deficit.

About 345 bus drivers and other employees will lose their jobs with the district, but will have the right to apply for positions with the private firms.[...]

Detroit and every other school district in the state have to find savings wherever they can in the face of shrinking support from the state. Privatizing services such as transportation should always come before cutting into academic programs and laying off teachers.

There will be pushback, as there always is when union jobs are eliminated, but this is an important step toward establishing correct priorities for the Detroit school system.

Michigan actually has a fairly robust tradition of outsourcing non-instructional school services like transportation, food and janitorial, something covered in great detail in the Mackinac Center's 2007 school privatization primer. Their 2009 survey of Michigan public school districts found that more districts (44 percent) are contracting out for at least one of the three major school support services — food, custodial and transportation — than ever before.

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Edited by - JK on 07/09/2010 10:36:15 AM
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Thomas Ford 85-16
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USA
4165 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  2:38:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit Thomas Ford 85-16's Homepage  Send Thomas Ford 85-16 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for that article, JC. I would like to know more about what the "access" to their operations consisted of because that's probably where anything illegal would dwell. If FS just got to see invoices at the DPS board office (I can't imagine Safeway letting them on the property to see ANYTHING further than invoices), then that is no big deal as invoices would be public information anyway. Anything more though, then that would be unfair.

Whatever the case... First Student providing an analysis (and for $85K??) and then getting to bid on an RFP they developed smells fishy anyway. They could write something awfully cryptic knowing that someone else may end up bidding high on it.

Wally, your first name wouldn't happen to be Rob would it? And so evidently you're in Michigan?

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JK
Top Member

USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  3:07:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
<< "If FS just got to see invoices at the DPS board office (I can't imagine Safeway letting them on the property to see ANYTHING further than invoices)" >>

Access to just the invoices would cost 85,000 tomatoes? That' something the DPS operations could do themselves and also perhaps have an intuitive knowledge about the various operations that FS might not have.

Not enough in the press to provide much about anything concerning this issue or the DPS administration's behavior. It leaves a great deal to speculate on. Regardless, any relationship to the extent of allowing one bidder an inside track seems more toward what adult corruption needs, not toward the needs of children.

Who WallyG is remains irrelevant. This is a forum where the choice to discuss issues Anonymously is accepted. To push for names and locations can degrade comments to this forum and is inappropriate, in my opinion. (jk)

NEW FOR 2010 SCHOOL YEAR!
Stopping bullying on the school buses - Fast Track slide presentation to help stop bullying on the school buses. Includes class handouts. Free to use in self-study, for class training, and for presentation to the school board. Click Here for Link (See Post # 14)

Edited by - JK on 07/09/2010 3:57:03 PM
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Thomas Ford 85-16
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USA
4165 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  6:32:13 PM  Show Profile  Visit Thomas Ford 85-16's Homepage  Send Thomas Ford 85-16 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Wally doesn't need to identify himself, just like I remain mostly anonymous (though most of us know I am a proud Michigander). I just wanted to know if his name may have been Rob because there is a Rob in my area who I may be forced to work for soon if I want to continue in my line of work and I might just have to get off Wally's case if he is indeed this Rob...wouldn't want to cross the new boss ya know. The personalities fit, that's why I wonder.
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CPCSC_TD
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USA
657 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2010 :  6:42:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Must not forgot about Robert Bobb's past with First Student. He has done this exact plan before with other districts, Robert Bobb's company LAPA Group, LLC, has a great relationship with FS and has been down this exact road before.

$112 million a year? Hmmm- has anyone actually looked at Detroit's accounting records for their office of pupil transportation? Someone is getting a nice profit on that annual price. A few years ago (2005-ish) their budget was 52 million. Seems bizarre it jumped this much in 5 years.
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WallyG
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United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2010 :  03:25:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yeah they call themselves the "TURNAROUND GTOUP" which I find laughable, from what I have seen of this bunch of keystone cops they couldn't turn around a moped.

I didn't sense a closeness between the Bobb's and FS much the contrary, Bobb's group is a political bunch if you get my drift. As for teh $85K study there was not any internal knowledge aquired that an outside company couldn't FOIA and certainly no more of an advantage the 3 local comapanys didn't have.

Just wondering if you wanted to hire someone, would you get the people who have been doing a GOOD job educating kids for the best $$ like say Utah where they are spending about 1/6 of what Washington DC (Bobb's home) spends for much much better education results. Hmmmmm ya think,
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2010 :  03:31:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
PS: If anyone of you would like to see contractor invoices at your local (or any) school district all you have to do is file a FOIA Freedom of informantion act form - and is about 10 days you will have access they will probably copy the invoices you want to see.

Almost all district info is available through this process.
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CPCSC_TD
Top Member

USA
657 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2010 :  05:24:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What really bothered me is what Detroit sold their fleet for. It was terribly less than they should have.

i think in the long run they will be okay but there's a lot to go through right now- the city, buildings, declining enrollment, etc....

in a way I miss the days of about a dozen companies. I used to love driving by the City Wide when they had everyone's old buses!
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2010 :  12:05:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
CPC calling that bunch of broke down buses a "fleet" is like calling an elmentary school a university. FS made a big mistake buying that bunch of ill maintained buses. I'll go no further but to say if the general public knew how badly maintained and neglected those buses are there would be an uproar.
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Former School Bus M8
Senior Member

143 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2010 :  7:29:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A few comments from either school board members or supt's/assist supt's that I seem to often read in the paper when a district around here grants a contract to FS are "we were hoping to get more bidders this year but unfortunatley FS was the only bidder," "there is no competition in this area anymore so FS has the upper hand," "we wish that we had more than one bidder but w/o laidlaw and all the other companies gone, we have to go with FS." A comment I've often heard from smaller contractors is "if we bid on something FS has they can turn around and put us out of business." The losers in this are the kids in some cases.

It might sound great for Detroit to take FS but do you think they might be cutting their nose despite their face? Is it possible that in the long run when the competition is long gone from the area that FS might not be so generous with their prices? I know thats the main gripe from district officials around here. With Detroits fleet gone would it be more more difficult/costly to start from scratch again if the were not happy with FS? Reminds me of that saying "absolute power corrupts absolutley."

School Bus M8
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JK
Top Member

USA
7307 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2010 :  10:53:18 PM  Show Profile  Visit JK's Homepage  Reply with Quote
<< "It might sound great for Detroit to take FS but do you think they might be cutting their nose despite their face? Is it possible that in the long run when the competition is long gone from the area that FS might not be so generous with their prices? I know thats the main gripe from district officials around here. With Detroits fleet gone would it be more more difficult/costly to start from scratch again if the were not happy with FS? Reminds me of that saying "absolute power corrupts absolutley." >>

The shortsighted have no idea what you are attempting to communicate. Most want to boast on their résumé’s and in political campaign's how they turned around a school district, failing to mention the escalation in costs down the road when monopolies developed as a result. That's the next guy's problem, not the current management. (jk)

Do your managers know new legal threat of workplace bullying?
June 11, 2010 by Tim Gould
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NEW FOR 2010 SCHOOL YEAR!
Stopping bullying on the school buses - Fast Track slide presentation to help stop bullying on the school buses. Includes class handouts. Free to use in self-study, for class training, and for presentation to the school board. Click Here for Link (See Post # 14)

Edited by - JK on 07/11/2010 11:34:56 PM
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  05:13:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Assure you contractors will do a much better job with a lot less staff. Contract is for 5 years so price protection is in place, if FS raises prices for next RFP then some other outfit will take over, happens all the time, the days of big ineffecient organizations like DPS running their own transportation systems is over and it is about time.
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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  5:47:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
I believe M8 is trying to say that, if FS wins enough contracts, they can drive the competition out of an area. If FS raises the prices, there's no guarantee that another outfit will take over, because there's no guarantee that the other companies still exist. It's one of the reasons FS is called "the Wal-Mart of the school bus industry." Both companies use predatory pricing to drive the competition out of business, then switch to a profitable mode. When a small, family-owned bus company loses its only contract, it doesn't sit idle for 5 years and jump back in. The owners either sell out to a larger company or find employment elsewhere.
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JC_Theriault
Senior Member

114 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  6:21:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit JC_Theriault's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm still trying to figure out how FS was allowed to actually bid on the job they consulted on. They had an unfair advantage by knowing a lot more financial details about fellow bidders by doing the consulting work. That should have barred them from bidding for the duration of the next contract.
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WallyG
Advanced Member

United States
254 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  2:22:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
JC Not really, see above posts, there is nothing they have found (I have read the report) which is not available through FOIA or on the RFP Q&A session. Of course the real ones with an advantage are the ones who are running routes for DPS, of course an incumbent company has an advantage but they lose all the time lately they have been losing contracts at an alarming rate.

724 You are correct, but there are plenty of companies ready to give First Mart :) a run for their money - First Mart's arrogance and condescension will be the cause of their demise.
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