Columbia County working the kinks out of the bus system

Aiken County Area 1 bus routes have changed drastically for the 2010-2011 school year, causing delays on the first day of school. (August 16, 2010 / WRDW-TV)
By  | 

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

COLUMBIA CO. (WRDW)- Day two of school for thousands of Columbia County students, and day 2 of frustrations for several parents. Buses showing up late or not at all.

School leaders say transportation is always a challenge, but this year some definite last minute bumps in the road.

Heather Pruin has 3 kids in school in Columbia County, and on the first day of school they waited and waited for the bus to come.

"I had errands to run and I had things and obligations I had to do, and of course I had to wait on the bus and if he needed to be taken because I didn't even know if the bus was coming so that hinders you in that area," said Pruin.

Pruin says the high school bus was supposed to show up at 7:05
it got there at 7:25. The elementary school bus supposed to pick up her kids at 8:15 and they came at 8:35, and some parents tell news 12 the bus didn't show up at all.

"I will just say that it's partly because of work force. It's partly because of traffic patterns. It's partly because of children who choose to ride the bus one day and not the other," said Columbia County Superintendent Sandra Carraway.

Board members say this year overcrowding is the problem.
Bus drivers only 3/4 of the way through their routes are already full of kids. So they take them to school, then drive back and finish their routes. Meaning dozens of students are stuck waiting.

"For us its really a guessing game on who will get on a bus. even from day to day," said Carraway.

Columbia County school buses are sitting here empty waiting to be loaded up with kids, and one south Columbia mom says she had to wait even longer for her child to come home

"It does worry you because you don't know where your child is, and you don't know what's happened or what time they're going to be home, and when you go call the bus or the school all they tell you is the bus is running late," said Pruin.

Board members say their biggest challenge is when a bus driver calls out sick, but that's not the only bump in the road this year.
A few bus drivers quit just days before the first day of school, and it takes weeks to train a new driver. Two buses have broken down.
Another got stuck, so other drivers have to pick up the slack.

"Hopefully it wont be consistently," said Pruin.

Board members also say another issue is since the number of students have grown so much traffic has gotten way worse and that's one reason for late drop offs. They say they're analyzing the number of students to adjust bus routes. That may mean some drivers may have to do twice the runs. They say the problem wont be solved overnight but parents should see improvements tomorrow.