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Queens Chronicle

An orange-colored hell on four wheels

St. Albans boy came home sick after commuting from school in Bayside

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:30 am

On Frankie Andrea’s first day of school, his mother Belinda Barnett-Andrea had suspicions about the bus taking him from his St. Albans home to his school in Bayside.

A special education student, Frankie was unable to go to a school closer to his home and had to be bused to a program several miles away.

No stranger to student transportation issues, Barnett-Andrea decided to follow Frankie’s bus. She said her decision to be cautious was quickly validated. She said she witnessed the bus breaking down and her son being left stranded.

On his second day of school, Frankie came home late — sweaty, light-headed with his pants soaked in urine.

“Frankie needs to be on another bus company,” Barnett-Andrea said. “This is a dangerous bus company.”

Frankie takes bus Q775 to school every day and it is operated by R&C Transit, which is in Queens Village. Barnett-Andrea said the company’s buses are based in Brooklyn and she believes her son was on the bus without air conditioning, which is required for special education students when the temperature is over 70 degrees.

The mother reported the problem to the city Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation, who told her they would have the bus inspected and would look into the problem, but she said she has gotten the run around from OPT.

“People are lying left and right,” Barnett-Andrea said.

She said the problem has only compounded the other issues she deals with, including caring for her elderly mother and her brother, John Barnett, an MTA cop who was shot in the eye last summer in Jamaica.

“It’s really taken a toll on me,” she said.

Barnett-Andrea has also contacted the organization Parents to Improve School Transportation, an organization created by city parents to fight inadequacies in school bus service. They were to meet with DOE officials and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel on general issues with bus service for special education students Tuesday evening.

A representative from R&C Transit declined to comment on Barnett-Andrea’s complaints and the DOE said it was looking into the concerns.

“We have received complaints from this parent and we began addressing her concerns immediately,” said DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg in an email. “The vehicle for her son has air conditioning and we are making sure it is fully operational. In addition, we will have an inspector at this school to check the bus service.”

Feinberg said R&C Transit has been serving city students since 1979.

But Barnett-Andrea said she was determined to get Frankie onto a different bus.

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