Letter: Poor bus service a waste of taxpayer money

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

After listening to Mayor (Mark) Lauretti’s seven-minute speech at the Board of Alderman meeting last week, I find myself needing to shed light on two points that were made. The speech in its entirety talks about Shelton citizens being critical of the current administration specifically citing the issues with Shelton Student Transportation Services and the inferior service that it is providing. It also gives praise to the bus runs that have been completed and implies that taxpayers should be happy paying for bus service that is less than 100 percent.

To quote from the speech while he was talking about negative comments on the bus service, “Where was this commentary last year when the city took over the buses? Virtually non-existent.” Well Mr. Mayor, if you had attended the public portion of the BOA meetings in the beginning of the school year in 2019, you would have heard it firsthand. Parents came out and spoke about the issues with the bus service. Some spoke and gave pictures of kids sitting in the aisles on overcrowded high school bus runs, others spoke about missed stops and buses not showing up at all. You can find the actual issues and concerns raised in the meeting notes or by watching the city Youtube videos of the past meetings.

Mayor Lauretti also expounded upon the lack of service as having “Nothing to do with resources that we have to provide the service, but it has to do everything with the fact that there is a pandemic.” I would like to point out that the resources of the bus company amount to two resources, the buses and the drivers. While the city of Shelton owns the buses, the drivers are employed by the city.

The city of Shelton chose to lay off the bus drivers while the schools were shut down from March to June 2020 and then again in November 2020 to January 2021. If the city valued its resource, the drivers, it would not have laid them off. These drivers left and chose to take employment at other bus companies or pursue other job opportunities. They most likely would have stayed if they had been retained on salary.

The state of Connecticut requested all towns keep their drivers on the payroll. Shelton did not. It chose to save money by laying the drivers off and now wants to blame their lack of drivers on the pandemic and people being sick. City of Shelton — You made a bad decision, you let your precious resource go and instead of admitting that you made a mistake, you are using the pandemic as a smoke screen to cover your ineptitude at running a bus company.

Citizens of Shelton without students in the school system, please see what is going on. The city is wasting your taxpayer money. They are taking the BOE money for bus service and not providing the full service that they are contractually bound to provide. And to make it worse, the city thinks that providing only some of the service is acceptable and wants you to think that also.

Elisa Uhrynowski

Shelton parent and resident