Local News

Wayne Co. School Bus Drivers Unhappy

Posted October 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Already this year, school bus drivers in Wake and Nash counties have cried foul over pay changes. Now, another dispute is brewing in Wayne County, but money isn't the issue this time.

Drivers say the latest tool to make driving more efficient is more a burden than a blessing.

For 12 years, Billy Smith has carried children to and from school. Like many of his fellow drivers, he's angry that a new computer is telling him how long he should take to complete his trip.

Like some computers that run big delivery companies, this new program pinpoints how long each route should take. Each driver's hours are then adjusted to conform with the predicted time. Administrator Buddy Smith says it's fairer to the drivers and more efficient for taxpayers.

The least efficient drivers lose hours the county says they shouldn't be using anyway. A few will lose something even more important.

Acting School Superintendent Jimmy Williams says the program is still being fine-tuned.

For some drivers, the primary concern is the projected loss of benefits. Before, they were making just enough hours to qualify. Now, their hours may fall short.

Most of the 200 drivers haven't objected to the plan, but a few say they want to know more before they can move ahead.

Some of the Wayne County drivers are planning to meet with administrators Thursday night to ask questions. The plan should be in place in every Wayne County school by the end of the week.