New Philadelphia Bus Provider Begins October 1

By Kristin Sanderson

Following problems with safety, service, and reliability with Leahy Transportation, today the School District of Philadelphia announced that it is assigning a new provider, Total Transportation, to The Miquon School. Total Transportation bus service to Miquon begins October 1.

Every three years, the City of Philadelphia contracts with independent (third party) bus companies. In the fall of 2014, the City contracted with Leahy Transportation and assigned that company to bus Philadelphia students attending The Miquon School.

“The service in these first weeks of school has proved even more challenging than last year,” said Susannah Wolf, Miquon’s new principal who joined the school on July 1, 2015.

Since the start of school on September 8, Miquon families experienced troubles from buses arriving up to 40 minutes late in the morning to buses not arriving at all.

According to Miquon parent Lisa Zahren of Mount Airy: “There have been multiple days when the buses have not shown up to pick up the kids [and it has] taken over an hour to get to school when the ride should be 20 minutes.”

Additionally, the school and parents were concerned about safety, and made inquiries with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “One morning, the bus arrived with thick, black smoke filling the street,” Zahren said.

On Monday, September 21, a state police safety check found problems with the Leahy buses, including a flat tire and a broken “stop” sign that should swing out.

“This was completely unacceptable,” said Wolf, a Miquon alumna who has made her career in Progressive education. “Safety is our first priority, and that includes bus rides to and from school.”

In the first weeks of September, The Miquon School worked to pursue a new bus contract assigned by the city, reaching out to School District of Philadelphia’s Chief Operating Officer Fran Burns. The school also asked Philadelphia resident parents to report their grievances to their City Council members.

There was much relief in the school community following today’s announcement about the carrier change from Burns’ office.

“We had an unsuccessful relationship with Leahy, they were unable to meet our needs,” explained Wolf. “We really appreciate the Philadelphia School District advocating on behalf of Miquon students.”

Wolf and the Miquon staff are already collaborating with Jeff Rollo of Total Transportation to ensure safety and driver training moving forward.

“This is a win for the Philadelphia School District,” said Wolf. “Together, we were able to turn this situation around in just three and a half weeks.”