A report via Jon Camp at ABC 11 details that Wake County Public Schools are looking to cut bus routes again this year. The report says they want to cut out around 3,000 of the current 25,000 routes.
“Even though we’ve had more students riding the bus, we’ve been able to make the routes more efficient, getting more students per bus and still getting them to school on time,” Poston said.
But some parents have already seen the downside of fewer routes. Here’s one at a year-round school complaining on a neighborhood Internet chat site about a “major change”in a bus route, turning a possible 3-5 minute ride into a 45-minute haul each way.
“What we’re trying to do is build a system that sufficient for the entire county,” Poston said,”and sometimes that means somebody might have to ride a little bit longer to get to school. But it still a service that we are offering to get your kid from your door to school.”
Fewer routes also mean fewer buses. Last year, there were about 820 school buses on Wake County roads. This year the goal is about 760. And the district says it has about 760 drivers.
Wake County is the 16th largest school district in the nation and the largest one in our state. The district has over a billion dollar budget, but yet they can’t manage that or busing for the third year straight.
@JonCampABC11 I read your Wake Bus article.
I can speak to ‘delays’. We experienced 40-50m delays for months & I emailed WCPSS board.
— A.P. Dillon – LL1885 (@LadyLiberty1885) August 2, 2016
On a personal note, I can sympathize with the parents who complained because long delays and waiting around an HOUR or more for a 2-mile bus ride were exactly what happened to our family.
I documented each late pickup and return for two weeks. It was the return trip that was mostly the problem. Not a single day for two months did our bus leave the school on time or arrive when it was supposed to. Not one.
On our route, my kids are one of the first few stops and the school is well under two miles away. There is no excuse WCPSS can give me when the school dismisses at 3:45 pm and my children are getting home at any random time between 4:30 to 5:30 pm.
When these late drop-offs continued for a month, I wrote to the Wake School Board. Bill Fletcher, Christine Kushner, and Susan Evans responded. All of them asked for the school and bus number.
Evan’s response was longer, however blaming lack of bus drivers and ‘budget constraints’:
from: Susan Evans <firstname.lastname@example.org> 9/28/15
Can you please supply your child’s elementary school and their bus route number, so that I can ask the transportation department to see if any improvements can be made? Please know that I do not think our current transportation scenario of having to use fewer buses, less stops with more students is perfect by any means. The budgetary constraints and lack of available bus drivers in the past three years has driven this streamlined approach. Nonetheless, the transportation department does consider that the majority of students buses are currently picking students up and delivering them in the afternoon within the time frame communicated as a success in consistency. I know they will be continuing to review routes to make them as efficient as possible, so I am happy to pass along your particulars when you share them.
Susan P. Evans
Wake County Board of Education
(Apex/Holly Springs/SE Cary/W Cary/ N Fuquay-Varina)
As I wrote last year, miraculously our school was given three new buses a while after I complained.
By the end of the school year, however, several of those buses were pulled from our school and parents on those routes saw the wait times return. Our school sent out a flyer to parents not long after with a list of ‘route schedule changes’.
Our route was bumped back from a 4:10 return time to a 4:22 return time. Again, our stop is one of the very first on the return run from a school that is less than 2 miles away. For contrast, consider that four years ago my child was returning from school every day like clockwork at 4:05 pm.
I was semi-vocal about this last year, but if it happens this year I won’t be quietly emailing behind the scenes.
The 2016-17 routes don’t appear to be posted yet but get your act together, WCPSS. Stop blaming budgets and drivers. Stop cutting routes to save money at our student’s expense because you can’t work out a billion dollar budget.