Repeated reports of overcrowding on Middleton school buses prompted the city’s police department to cite the bus company with a misdemeanor Thursday, Police Chief Brian Zimmerman said.
Middleton Bus Co. manager Steve Vis declined to comment on the situation.
Zimmerman said the issue arose a couple of weeks ago, just after the start of the school year, when the son of one of his officers reported sitting in the aisle of a school bus, and other parents lodged complaints by phone calls and Facebook. He said the officer approached Vis and was told the overcrowding would be corrected immediately.
But on Wednesday, Zimmerman said, Middleton police received complaints of overcrowding on three bus routes, with four students on seats designed for a maximum of three children and other kids standing or sitting in the aisles. On Thursday, police cited the bus company for overcrowding and were told steps were being taken to correct the problem, he said.
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To make sure the overcrowding stops, police will make spot checks of Middleton buses, Zimmerman said. He said he didn't know whether the company, which contracts with the Middleton School District to provide bus services, will be able to address the situation by adjusting routes or will need to provide an additional bus.
"We will hold their feet to the fire," Zimmerman said.
Middleton’s school enrollment unexpectedly increased by more than 150 students for this school year, creating challenges in busing, classroom spaces and other areas, according to a letter on the district website.