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2 Investigators: Chicago School Bus Drivers Breaking Laws

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CBS 2 uncovered driving violations by a school bus company that transports Chicago Public Schools students. (CBS)

CBS 2 uncovered driving violations by a school bus company that transports Chicago Public Schools students. (CBS)

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(CBS) — Students spending three hours a day on a school bus and drivers breaking all sorts of traffic laws potentially endangering their passengers — these problems and more have been uncovered by CBS 2’s Dave Savini.

While watching Alltown buses transporting Chicago students, Savini caught a driver blowing through multiple stop signs, failing to use a turn signal and other serious traffic violations.  She even drove over railroad tracks without stopping first which scared some young passengers, including Kate Chambers.

“What if a train was coming?” said Kate Chambers. She said the driver also failed to open the bus doors to listen for trains.  “We could get hit.”

Her sister, Nora Chambers, also had problems with the bus drivers driving.

When the driver stopped to let off some students, Savini tried to ask about her driving infractions, but she apparently did not want to answer any questions.

It’s not the only Alltown bus driver accused of bad driving.  The company has a history of complaints against its drivers.  CBS2 uncovered records revealing 77 driving complaints against Alltown’s drivers, since 2009, filed with the Chicago Public School’s Bureau of Student Transportation.  Complaints include reckless driving, erratic driving while using cell phones, blowing through stop signs and red lights and not stopping at railroad tracks.

While following this one driver, CBS 2 caught her committing another dangerous offense.  The driver drove into an intersection and turned left even though she had a red light.

Parents say they believe CPS is trying to save money by packing bus routes.

“What happened is they overburdened a lot of the bus routes,” said Kristina Chambers.  “They have too many stops and not enough buses to serve all of these schools.”

Her children attend a gifted program for 7th and 8th graders located on the grounds at Lane Tech High School.  Aside from the erratic driving by their bus operator, the students and parents complain the route is so long the kids were spending more than three hours a day on the bus.  Some children have even been on the bus for as along as an hour and 40 minutes.  Several children have even suffered motion sickness, including Jake Nolan.

“I felt sick,” said Jake Nolan.  “I started gagging and then threw up in the aisle.”

Jennifer Nolan says she and other parents complained to Chicago Public Schools and to Alltown.

“It sounds absolutely that they need to add another bus,” she says.

Instead of adding another bus, we found the driver just cutting safety corners to get them home faster.

“I have a lot of just disappoint with Chicago Public Schools for letting this go on,” Tom Chambers says.

Alltown did not return CBS 2’s repeated phone calls for comment.

Chicago Public School Officials say they do not condone these kinds of safety violations and are investigating.  District officials have since added another bus to this route and have recently changed the leadership of the district’s Transportation Department.

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