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Bus Fiasco Crushes Seymour Students’ Radio City Dreams
by Ethan Fry | Dec 10, 2012 5:22 pm
Posted to: Seymour
The thoughts streaming across the Facebook page of Peter Pan Bus Lines Monday morning were anything but happy.
Angry Seymour residents blanketed the page with complaints after a lost driver cost nearly 40 kids a chance to sing onstage at Radio City Music Hall Saturday.
The company’s response? We blew it, but we’ll try to make it up to you.
According to Terri Lynn Ferrara, one of the chaperones for the trip, 37 members of the Seymour Middle School’s eighth grade chorus got up up early Saturday and gathered at the school for the bus about 5 a.m.
The plan: head down to New York City, where the chorus would sing onstage before a showing of the venue’s famous “Christmas Spectacular,” then take in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and enjoy lunch on the town.
But as the minutes kept ticking by and no bus had shown up, Ferrara said the trip’s organizers became more and more antsy.
What’s worse, they tried calling the driver’s cell phone and weren’t getting an answer. A call to the company’s “emergency” number didn’t help either, she said, because a message at the number informed them someone would be available at 8 a.m.
“We just kept calling and calling,” Ferrara said. “Everybody was freaking out.”
They finally got the driver on the phone about 7:30 a.m., Ferrara said — the time they were told they’d have to be in New York City in order for the children to sing onstage.
The driver told them he was lost and couldn’t see any signs, but that he thought he might be in the area of Winsted, according to Ferrara.
Winsted is about 40 miles north of Seymour.
“At that point we knew that the singing was over. They weren’t going to be able to sing,” she said.
Ferrara said the group still had hopes of making it down to the city to at least see the show, but when it was nearly 8 a.m. and there was still no bus, Ernie DiStasi, the school’s vice principal, decided to cancel the event altogether.
That left a group of “devastated” kids, Ferrara said, some of whose parents had already left for New York to see them sing. The chaperones still in Seymour arranged to look after the temporarily orphaned Annies.
“I had eight girls staying with me all day,” Ferrara said.
‘There’s our bus!’
She took the girls to the McDonald’s on Route 67 for breakfast when the day took a bizarre twist.
“We’re sitting in McDonald’s and one of the girls screams ‘Oh my God there’s our Peter Pan bus!’” Ferrara recalled Monday.
They all ran out of the restaurant and scrambled after the vehicle.
“It was the replacement bus,” Ferrara said, driven by a “very nice man” who, unfortunately, “had no clue what was going on.”
Because the trip had already fallen apart, by that point, they let the bus go on its way.
The Message Spreads
A few hours later, about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Ferrara shared her story on the Valley Indy’s Faceook page.
Her post was shared 62 times and has attracted 17 “Likes” and 48 comments — and spawned some angry posts on the bus company’s page.
“Hey Peter pan who did the schedule for SMS,” wondered Carol Griffin Diorio. “Someone owes the parents and children more than an apology.”
“Peter Pan should be ashamed of themselves for not showing up to take the Seymour kids to sing on stage @ Radio City this past Sat,” wrote Beth Esposito.
“The audacity to simply not show up for a commitment, when you employ hundreds of people, is simply unacceptable,” wrote Carrie Bartimole Hunnicutt. “The business side of this is one thing, and I don’t see how a company stays in business when their job is to show up and drive people somewhere . . . and you simply ignore your commitment!”
The company responded to each post with profuse apologies: “We are currently working with the school on a solution. This was absolutely our error and we understand that everyone was extremely disappointed in the matter. We are hoping to work out something with the school in order to make it right.”
On Monday Robert Schwarz, the company’s executive vice president, reiterated the mea culpa.
“This is very unfortunate,” Schwarz said. “The driver did get lost. There’s no argument about it. We’re not running from it.”
How that happened the company has not yet determined, he said, but no matter what they’ll be trying to work with the school on some sort of solution.
“It’s under investigation as to what happened, but our main goal is to make this right for the school, the students, and the parents,” Schwarz said. “We’ve been in business for 80 years. This rarely happens, but when things go wrong, we’re going to make it right.”
Ferrara said that since the Radio City Christmas Spectacular runs several times a day throughout the month, she hopes the chorus will be able to reschedule their appearance.
Schwarz said Peter Pan will do whatever the school wants it to.
“We’re working on a number of different things,” he said. “We want to try to make up for what they missed. We want to try to do what’s right. We’re going to let them determine what’s right.”
A very simple solution to the bus company and all other bus companies would be to purchase GP-Systems for the buses. I was in similar situations while chaperoning school trips. The bus driver’s directions weren’t correct and we had to direct. We were lucky that we were with the driver as this situation arose.
How very disappointing for everyone.
There is a thing called a TRAIN, next time arrange for the students to go by train and let their parents be the ones to get them there on time.
A train opens up potential liability issues. If a student gets injured on the way to the school event, the onus would be on the school. Just the legal fight regarding it would be messy. Best to handle everything in house.
Hey Christopher what makes you think a bus doesn’t open up “legal issues” school function or not. There have been many school functions where kids have taken the train.