Local News

Wake Says Bus Maintenance Is Improving; Some Skeptical

Posted May 2, 2007 11:34 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2007 10:34 a.m. EDT

— Wake County’s school buses got poor marks in a state inspection, and officials say they have made changes. One mechanic with the school system’s Transportation Department said Wednesday, however, that not everyone sees improvements.

The mechanic insists the buses are safe, but he told WRAL that the potential for problems still exists.

The mechanic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the workload for each mechanic is simply overwhelming. He said he is responsible for more than 50 buses.

“It doesn't take much to miss something that might cause a problem,” he said.

The Wake School Board has issued a memo saying changes to improve school bus safety had been made, including realigning personnel so there are fewer buses per mechanic.

The troublesome score earlier this year wasn't the first bad inspection. The scores for Wake County have gradually been getting worse over the last five years.

In a scoring system where zero is perfect, Wake went from a 39 in 2001 to a 94 this year, which was one of the worst scores in the state. Fuel leaks, oil leaks, tire pressure were all cited as problems.

“We've been working for the last four or five months to turn things around,” Don Haydon, an associate superintendent for the school system said.

The district is looking for more people, too.

“We're recruiting as fast as we can to fill the positions we have and we're also seeking more positions to keep up with the growth,” Haydon said.

The Transportation Department is down five mechanics and is adding six positions next year. There's a job fair this Friday, and the system is looking at trying to offer more competitive salaries.

The school system requested a state re-inspection in June and hopes to improve its score.