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Mayor Should Re-Route Bus Contracts to Save Money

If the mayor truly wants to find some fat to cut in the Department of Education budget, he can start by bidding out the school bus contracts, which, because of political clout and corruption, have not been bid since 1978.

First, the mayor could read the words of Chancellor Klein’s out of town consultants; you remember, they worked for the company that Klein hired to suggest ways to save DOE money.

In last month’s Times, the consultant said some bus vendors were ripping off the city.

That announcement did not come as a surprise to federal prosecutors or to long time investigative reporter Nick Pileggi, who wrote about mob corruption in the bus firms and the bus drivers union in 1980. He called his piece “The Hoods Behind the Wheel.”

Last week, the feds accepted a guilty plea from Sal Battaglia, the former president of the union, for taking bribes from bus owners.

Paying such a bribe should automatically disqualify the company from doing business with DOE.

Also, the top man at DOE’s inspection unit has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from the bus companies, some of which are mob run, so they could be tipped off on safety inspections, thus putting the lives of kids at risk. He said the scheme was in place since the 1980s (apparently no one at Tweed has noticed) and that he also set up fictitious bus routes for his benefactors. Bilking DOE out of tens of millions of dollars.

Greg Smith reported in the Jan. 6th Daily News that safety violations have tripled – to 30,000 this year – since the paper revealed that bus companies were receiving tips ahead of time about “surprise” inspections.

Think about it: these guys are driving hundreds of thousands of kids around town every day!

The mayor needs to cancel the companies’ contracts effective on the last day of school, issue some RFP’s before then and explore the MTA running the routes, thus cutting out the middle men but protecting the rights of honest bus drivers.

Sounds like Klein needs a rubber room for his bus unit.



  • 1 redhog
    · Jan 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Exactly right. The entire culture at OPT has been abominable for years. A few years ago I worked there on a per session gig. My job was writing letters and memos. I tried to be a self-starter. When I read about a school bus driver whose reflexes and judgment saved kids from certain injury and possible death I thought it might be nice for her bosses to send her a letter of praise. Well, I had to re-write that letter around 8 times. In the end it was around 2 sentences of bland cliche. Why? The OTP people told me that my other letters, well-written as they were, were totally out of line. They didn’t want to go on record being too complimentary to an employee. After all, it might be used against management in case they wanted to discipline this driver ( whose record was perfect) in the future. They didn’t want to give her ammunition, so saving kids from having their spines severed just had to be put into perspective.

  • 2 1 Billion Dollars = 12,000 Jobs, The Calculus of Layoffs, Who Are the Saviors? Is There Another Al Shanker Out There? « Ed In The Apple
    · Jan 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    […]   An Overhaul of School Bus Contracts   I am told by those “in the know” that the city has not rebid the school bus contracts since 1978, that the same very well connected folk run the bus companies. The DOE hired a consultant to […]

  • 3 jf palumbo
    · Oct 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    the doe opt is now harrassing drivers giving violations for pen marks on seats and paper on their floors of the bus after field trips or their runs.they want to make their money back go to the companies who have 20 year+old buses on the road.it seems alot of times the doe tries to ignore rules that drivers and escorts are taught that are ny state laws.lets investigate opt.