AWOL: Late Buses Strand Belmont High Prom Goers In The Rain

Thirty-three students and guests who paid $120 to attend the Belmont High School Senior/Junior Prom at Boston’s Copley Westin on Friday night, May 16, were left literally standing in the rain for nearly one hour and 45 minutes after the 5 p.m. scheduled departure time when buses from Crystal Transportation of Brighton arrived late to transport ticket-holders to the event at the Westin Copley Place Boston Hotel.

“It’s annoying because we’re missing our prom and all our friends are there and we’re stuck here,” said senior Natasha Trotman as concerned staff members, on the phone with the company, waited with the frustrated students.

“I’m a little mad. It’s kind of disappointing waiting around here,” said Solomon Mankin who spent $240 for two tickets. “At least I’m with great people in the rain,” he added, pointing to his friends.

According to press releases and news accounts, the firm was recently forced to stop carrying passengers due to serious safety concerns.

In an April 1 news release, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revoked Crystal Transportation’s operating authority and shut-down the carrier for “disregarding federal safety regulations and putting their drivers, passengers, and the motoring public at risk.”

It is not known at this time the process used to select the company.

On Friday afternoon, the bus line did not have carriers ready at the 5 p.m. schedule departure time, reducing the time students had to enjoy their prom.

The final bus arrived at Belmont High School – where the annual Pre-Prom Promenade had taken place – nearly three-quarters of a hour after the penultimate bus had left, which itself was 60 minutes behind schedule.

Belmont High School sophomore Jack Carbeck said while he wanted to be one of the last people to travel to the prom, “everyone paid the same price … I would expect [the company] would have enough buses to get us [to the Westin] on time.”

Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, whose son, senior Liam Cushman, was one of the students on the final bus, said she felt “belittled” as a parent and town official by the actions of the bus company.

“Some action needs to take place by someone,” she added.

Many of the students who were destined to be on the final bus were at the school for nearly three hours, much of the time inside a humid, hot cafeteria after parading before parents and friends during the promenade in the high school’s auditorium.

Due to the lengthy delay, the “surviving” participants would have less than three hours to enjoy the dancing, socializing and dining that was scheduled to end around “10-ish” p.m., according to John Muldoon, Belmont High’s assistant principal, who was informed of the buses location. The final bus reportedly drove past the school before the driver called asking for directions.

Crystal Transportation describes itself on its Facebook page as a “[c]harter Bus business located in Boston, MA. Provide Shuttle services for The University of Boston, Brandeis University as well as many others.”

On March 19, the FMCSA shut the company down after it discovered the shuttles used at UMass Boston were allowed to drive before drug test results of the company’s drivers were completed and a number of the drivers tested positive for controlled substances.

Given a month to respond to the charges, the company did not provide an answer to the feds. In an interview with the Boston Globe in March, Crystal’s General Manager Kevin Sheehan said the carrier fixed the problems but missed the deadline to file its corrective action plan.

There is no information indicating when the bus line was allowed to return to carrying passengers.

A call to Crystal Transportation by the Belmontonian was not returned.

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