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Dairyland Bus Company Loses Contract for Waukesha Schools

Transportation company officials feel they weren't given the same opportunities as winning bid.

Employees of Dairyland Buses, a long-time transportation provider for Waukesha students, were shocked when the company lost its contract to provide busing to the Waukesha School District despite having the lowest bid for diesel fuel.

The contract expires in June and when the 2013-14 school year begins, First Student will provide busing services.

While First Student’s bids came in at $6.33 million for diesel fuel and $6.14 million for propane fuel with an assumption that 50 percent of buses are run on propane fuel, Dairyland Buses’ bid $6.2 million to run buses on diesel fuel.

Waukesha School Board members unanimously approved a contract with First Student based on its technological advances that were not proposed by Dairyland Bus. For examples, First Student has a program to have students swipe a card when they get on and off the bus and send text messages to parents if desired.

“It is just phenomenal the things that will be available,” said Lauri Clifton, director of business services for Waukesha schools.

First Student was well researched through a variety of avenues, including state and federal government agencies.

  • SEE RELATED: Bus route cuts in Pebble Valley neighborhood upset parents

Paul Kolo, president of Dairyland Buses, told the board the company never had the chance to present alternative proposals and left the door open to talk about other possibilities.

“We have never once failed the Waukesha School District,” Kolo said. “We have never failed to provide quality service. … We were the low bid. We were the incumbent, and we have done a great job for this district for many, many years.”

The busing change didn’t sit well for some parents, though. One mother told the Waukesha School Board she trusted the bus drivers to take good care of her children.

“I cant put a price tag on that,” she said. “That is more important than GPS. In my opinion, if it is not broken, don’t fix it.”

ann lank April 06, 2013 at 02:28 AM
First student doesn't employ drivers under 21. What about these drivers, they no longer have a job.
Smith April 22, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Its about time. Change is good. Dairyland step up your game
Mr Lundt April 23, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Change for the sake of change is stupid. What "game" needs to be stepped up? It really the question most of us asked...
parentplus May 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM
as a parent of waukesha I've had issues with Dairyland the entire school year for my kindergarten student. They aren't customer service friendly nor do they handle dire situations professionally I'm pleased to know that the school district of Waukesha will bring in a sufficient more qualified busing company hopefully there are better results than what Dairyland provided. They don't know how to talk to parent's at Dairyland and their drivers are not all kid friendly most of them are weirdo's I believe all school buses need surveillance camera's provided for parent's when safety incident's occur between home to school and school to home it should be mandatory.
Terri H. August 10, 2013 at 09:03 PM
As a former Laidlaw driver of which was bought out by First Student, in the many years I drove, there were issues with both companies. The one thing here that everyone is forgetting is that both companies are in the same business. Transporting our future adults. It is sad that Dairyland lost the contract, that was up to the Waukesha School District to decide what to do. I am sure that any driver from Dairyland who wants to continue to drive, that First Student would more than likely be hired. Now that there is the need for more drivers, I was even approached again to become a driver again. Looking at past issues is not the problem to worry about, it is what is done now and in the future that is the issue, parents need to be vigilant when it comes to anything that pertains to their children, not just the busing, but also what happens in school, and out of school.

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