Several summer bus trips designed to get Queens youth to area parks and picnic areas had to be canceled because the city was unable to secure a bus contractor in time, the district manager for Community Board 9 said.
City officials, however, were able to fill contracts in the other four boroughs.
Mary Ann Carey said she received a phone call from the Department of Youth and Community Development July 10 informing her that all bus trips for July in Queens had been canceled. This forced her and other community boards to cancel several Summer Bus Program trips with little notice and, she said, left some of the borough's youth high and dry.
"I've been here 20 years and this has never happened before," she said. "And then the department did not come back and tell us that they were going to reschedule trips for August."
Carey said Queens is more dependent on the Summer Bus Program because there are very few youth programs in the borough. She said children look forward to the bus trips to get away from the more urban parts of the city and into nature.
Michael Ognibene, spokesman for the Department of Youth and Community Development, said Queens was the only borough not to get a summer bus contract in time because no vendor answered the city's two invitations to carry out the service. He conceded, however, that the city had not anticipated running into difficulty finding a vendor to run the Summer Bus Program.
"Typically, this is a short, painless process," he said. "It is unfortunate that any trips may have been canceled, but our priority is serving the youth in the communities."
The bus contract for Queens bus service was awarded after a third round of calls for bids and finally given to Global Charter Services, Ognibene said. No contractor accepted the city's bid proposals in the two prior rounds, Ognibene said.
Ognibene said his office was looking into the possibility of rescheduling the canceled trips.
Carey, however, said the real losers in the complicated bid process were the borough's youth. She said many of the children in Queens depend on the summer program to get them to recreational facilities for free.
"We don't live in an area like the mayor, where they take the kids to Europe or the Bahamas," she said. "These are inner-city children who really need this program."
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2003 Community News Group
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