‘It’s a mess:’ School bus drivers, families fed up with transportation issues

‘It’s a mess:’ School bus drivers, families fed up with transportation issues

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -Concerned parents say transportation issues continue, a month into a new school year.

“It’s out of control and Chesterfield Transportation needs to get their stuff together,” one mother who asked to remain anonymous wrote to NBC 12. " It’s a daily occurrence that I get a text message or email regarding late or no show buses, and that’s just for one school in the county. I can’t even begin to imagine what the county-wide impact is."

The woman tells NBC 12 that last week, a kindergartner was dropped of nearly 5 miles, and found wandering in an apartment complex. She says the driver was a substitute. Chesterfield Police tell us they responded to a call of child not getting off the bus as expected and was found to have been dropped off at another location.

CCPS released the following about the situation:

“Providing a safe, supportive and nurturing learning environment, which extends to the bus stop, remains a priority for all school division staff members. We will continue to work with our drivers, including those who are substituting on routes they do not normally drive, about the importance of verifying that a kindergarten student is accompanied by a parent or older sibling when leaving the bus.”
Chesterfield County Public Schools

“We were very upset to hear about that. That bus driver I’m sure was devastated, I’m sure it wasn’t intentional," explained a Chesterfield bus driver who asked to remain anonymous. “We felt the county threw that bus driver under the bus.”

The bus driver says she and many others are frustrated with what she calls poor communication and disorganization coming from the transportation office, and constantly reminds herself why she wanted to drive a school bus in the first place.

“It was something I wanted to do from my heart--I wanted to make a difference,” she said. “We’re driving people’s hopes and dreams were not driving asphalt and potatoes.”

She tells NBC 12 the issues seemingly escalated at the start of this school year with 5 transportation areas becoming 4 areas, area 5 was designated for special needs students. She says a new bus routing system was also introduced.

“I still love what I do, but when I get up in the morning now, my stomach hurts to go on to my bus. What are they going to yell at me about today? Are they going to re-route me?” she described. “It’s constant craziness--I can’t even describe it anymore than that.”

She says in the past, each area was in charge of their own routes, but that has since changed

“We’re running back to back to back to make up for the loss of drivers and the reason drivers began to quit was when area 5 was dismantled--once that happened it was a domino effect,” she explained. “We have hundreds, if not thousands of routes, hundreds of drivers, you cannot have five people working in a routing office trying to do routes when you have that many to drive."

During days of ‘constant craziness,’ she says drivers get little to no breaks, and says there are multiple issues occurring during a school day.

“Kids are not getting picked up, they’re late, there are double backs," she explained.

The driver says her own children in CCPS have dealt with late buses, and she understands the issue from both perspectives.

“These kids for bus drivers become like a part of our family and for special needs, the parents become a part of our family too," the bus driver said.

She wants county leaders to take a deeper look at what is and is not working within the transportation department, hoping that changes could alleviate headaches from families, and create a more effective system for drivers and students.

“I hope the parents of Chesterfield County can understand these things aren’t our fault, we’re only doing what we’re being told to do," the bus driver said.

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