PCR's New Buses are on the Move!
Freshman Crystal Jerez grinned and waved from the window of the shiny yellow bus as it began to pull away from the curb. In big, block letters, the side of the bus proclaimed its destination and its owner:
PROVIDENCE CRISTO REY HIGH SCHOOL.
As Providence Cristo Rey began its fall semester, one of the biggest changes students and families noticed was the school's transition to managing its own transportation system. The change came with 5 new PCR buses, an amazing new team of bus drivers, and the ability to be far more accessible to students coming from all over the city by expanding bus routes, improving communication on the road, and ensuring that the school's city-wide web of routes is comprehensive and efficient.
"The decision to shift to our own transportation system made a lot of sense," said PCR President, Tyler Mayer. "It is going to allow us to serve our families at a higher level and give us a lot more control over this important aspect of what we do. I've been extremely impressed with the team we've put together, especially our new bus drivers who have been going above and beyond to get our routes designed and buses up and running."
Having the school's own team of drivers has been an instrumental part of not only creating a transportation system that runs smoothly, but also making sure that parents feel ease, knowing that their students are in good hands the moment they step onto our buses.
"I encourage parents to talk to me," said bus driver Rachel Russell, who joined PCR's team after 16 years driving for IPS. "I want parents to trust me with their children - I am their eyes when they're not there. The kids also feel more of a sense of stability when they know there's an open line of communication in place. My main goal is for them to understand and trust the process. We're working diligently to make it smooth and efficient."
Managing a bus system that traverses so much of the city is no easy task. Not only do the buses have to pick up students who live all over the city, they also have to drive them to and from their Corporate Work Study jobs each week for companies that are located from downtown to Carmel and Fishers. Managing to transport the majority of the school's 190 students to over 70 CWS worksites each week while addressing the constantly changing needs of students is enough to make a person's head spin. Thankfully the school's drivers and operations team is up to the challenge.
"Even though I've had many years of experience, it's a whole new system, so there's lots to learn. With so much traffic around the city, we're working hard to make sure that kids aren't on the bus too long, so we're trying to expedite the process anywhere and any way we can," Mrs. Russell explained. "We do a lot behind the scenes to prepare, but the kids don't need to know or feel that stress."
Despite having to get up at 4:20 a.m. to make it in time for the start of her morning route, Mrs. Russell and the other bus drivers are committed to keeping the environments on their buses welcoming and positive.
"I want my bus to be a jovial, warm and inviting setting. Trust goes a long way with kids. They want to feel like they have a voice, like they can speak up and be heard. It's important to me to learn the names and stops of each student. I just want them to feel welcomed - like it's a home away from home. I tell the kids that they are my babies until I drop them back off."
In addition to working hard to smooth out any bumps in the road when it comes to the actual routes, PCR's transportation team is preparing to launch a new bus tracking app next month that will allow parents to track their student and their student's bus so that they can stay up-to-date with traffic delays and know their student's location as they leave the school building.
"There are certainly details that still need to get worked out, but overall, the transition has been pretty smooth, and our students and families have been amazingly supportive and patient as we get our buses up and running," Mr. Mayer said.