School switches to Selby after Supertrans denies routes

Allison Markman, Staff Writer

After Supertrans, the bus company the school has used as transportation for 30 years, denied service to bus routes in New Jersey, Westchester, and the Bronx, the school was forced to switch bus companies, Director of Transportation Robert Forcelli said. A new bus company, Selby Transportation Corp, took over transportation and agreed to honor the prices families used to pay for Supertrans bus service. 

Whereas Supertrans and Selby previously worked in conjunction, Selby is now the only transportation company working with the school. Selby seemed like the obvious choice for the switch, since it already transported many Lower Division students and had worked with the school for almost four decades, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly wrote in an email. Selby will cover all aspects of transportation at the school, including Dorr, Athletics, and all charter trips. 

Supertrans’ refusal to bus routes from New Jersey, Westchester, and the Bronx stems from the fact that these routes are less profitable or unprofitable for the company. Fewer students live in these areas, so fewer students are on each bus. Thus, in an effort to carve out the most profitable routes, Supertrans only offered to pick up students residing in Manhattan, Kelly wrote. “Allowing HM’s bus runs to be carved up from most profitable to least profitable was simply not acceptable.”

During the first week of school, many students who live in New Jersey and Westchester experienced late arrivals to school due to the switch.

Forcelli said that students should not compare the time it took them to get to school last year with this year because more people are returning to work, he said. “What many people fail to realize is, during the pandemic last year, the roads were basically empty and the buses were running at half capacity.”

Jared Contant (11), however, thinks the bus delays are not due to traffic, but rather, are company related. “I even waited 30 minutes for my six o’clock bus while all of the others were on time,” he said. “If the issue was traffic, there wouldn’t have been only one bus that was late.”

Rhea Patel (12), who lives in New Jersey, was not picked up until 8:10a.m. on the first day of school, though the bus was scheduled to arrive at 7:07a.m. “I don’t think this was related to the bus being stuck in traffic or anything, I think there was just another issue going on related to the bus company, ” she said.

Though traffic is a reason Gillian Ho (9) has been arriving late in the first month of school, she thinks that the new routes cause her to spend more time on the bus daily. Ho believes that the lateness is caused by the distance buses travel to pick each student up, she said. “There’s someone on my bus who lives in Yonkers, which is about 15 minutes away from my house, and there’s other people who live in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle [15-20 minutes away].”

Ho has been arriving at school around 8:30 a.m., when in previous years she arrived at 8:10 a.m., she said. Ho finds the lengthy ride home from school to be unreasonable as well. The bus’ route takes her 1 hour and 30 minutes to arrive home, though her home is only around 30 minutes away by car, even in traffic.  

Though some students’ buses have been arriving late, the school has been tracking routes and found that most buses arrive by 8:15 a.m, Forcelli said.

Malini Khorana P ‘23 believes the bus company could improve communication regarding delays, but is optimistic that the situation will improve, she wrote. “As we kick off the school year with a new bus company, I hope that the bus drivers are provided with training on their routes, maybe doing a ‘dry run’ with supervisors, and parents are kept updated about buses running late.”

Aware of the difficulties associated with change, Jakob Westra P ‘23 understands how hard it is to get everything right on the first try, he said. “Though the buses arriving late is frustrating, I am confident in HM’s and Selby’s ability to address the issues and get students to school on time.” 

Ultimately, Kelly is grateful that Selby was able to step up and is happy that service is being provided to all students. “We’re forever indebted to the Selby family for having done so,” he wrote.

There is currently a nation-wide bus driver shortage, and some districts have had to delay school openings because they cannot get their students to school, Forcelli said. 

“While everyone is feeling this pinch, we’ve been very fortunate — as one of Selby’s oldest clients — to see our buses staffed with permanence,” Kelly wrote.

To improve the situation, Selby will reflect on the lateness of the first week and adjust pick up and drop off times, Kelly wrote. “Over time, and with everyone’s patience, support and understanding, the Selby family will control what it can control and our bus runs will fall into place.”