Bus Delays Create Confusion For Wake Parents
Posted August 29, 2006 10:25 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — School bus delays and problems are a given during the first week of a new school year. But to some Wake County parents, this year is worse than ever.
In one example, East Garner Middle School currently has two buses arriving nearly an hour after school lets out. Another route to West Lake Middle School was making kids almost an hour late for school.
That's the route Katie Keffer and Indie Ray are on. Everything with the bus route was fine when year-round school started in July, but the start of traditional schools last Friday changed everything.
"My daughter said she made it to the last 10 minutes of her Social Studies class," said Cyndi Ray, Indie's mother.
Their driver said he'd be an hour late in the morning, indefinitely.
"He said he didn't know how long it would take. I guess until they hired enough drivers," said Chris Keffer, Katie's mother.
"I said (to the driver), 'What are we going to do?,'" said Ray. "He said, 'I don't know.'"
Their students' driver, Greg Kehle, said he simply has more ground to cover.
"This morning's route was 125 miles. A typical route is 60," said Kehle.
School system spokesperson Don Haydon agreed the delays this year seem worse than in years past. However, the expanding student population also means a need for more buses and drivers on the road. Right now, the school system is short 85 drivers.
"I frankly would apologize to our parents because I'm not happy with the service we're able to provide right now," said Haydon.
Haydon said he thinks the southern part of the county, where the Keffers and Rays live, is in the most trouble. But he also said that the school system's transportation department head, Eddie Adams, is working on a temporary solution.
"He's looking at things like transferring drivers from one section of the county to another," he said.
The schools system is also using substitute drivers, mechanics and supervisors as temporary drivers.
Haydon said he wants improvement by next week. But Kehle learned late Tuesday that he might get help sooner. His route is supposed to be normal Wednesday.
"Hopefully, he'll be on time," said Cyndi Ray.
Last year, 63,000 Wake County students rode the bus. This year, that number may jump to 68,000. About 835 drivers are currently making the rounds. Twenty-five others are in training and may be ready in a few weeks.