School bus driver shortage leads to double routes, getting kids home late

News 12 at 11 / Friday, October 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The wheels on Richmond County school buses are going round and round. The Department of Transportation confirms because of a shortage of drivers, some buses are having to make double routes.

It has some local mothers spending an extra hour at the bus stop waiting on their kids to get home from school.

Feet are tapping, phones are in hand. Mothers are anxiously awaiting their kids.

"When school started they told us they would be home by 3:37 in the evening, and it's here now 4:11 and they're still not here," mom Gabrielle Brown said.

It's an uncomfortable feeling for Brown who just wants to see her son safely home.

"We don't know if our kids are in harm's way, we don't know if the bus been held hostage you know. We don't know nothing. Anything serious could be going on," Brown thinks out loud.

Luckily, that's just a case of mother's worry, but the Board of Education's Department of Transportation confirms they are facing a high number of absentees in Richmond County bus drivers. It's forcing some to make double routes.

"The bus driver's having to do a double run, so my kids are having to sit at school while the bus driver does her original run and then come back and pick them up and then bring them home," mom Mandy Frady said.

She says the double run is getting the kids home sometimes an hour later than they should.

"They're not getting home until almost like 5 o'clock, an extra hour on the bus," Frady said.

"They're famished by the time they get home. They're really, really in an uproar," mother Brandy Sousa said.

Friday the kids got home just before 4:30. The moms say this has been going on for more than a week now.

Today news 12 spoke with the Director of Transportation Jimmie Wiley who says they're constantly recruiting new drivers, but training them doesn't happen overnight. He says it's better to get the kids home late than have them transported by an untrained driver.

The moms agree, but they say the lack of communication is unacceptable.

"Board of Education, if you could make it so the teachers could send communication home you know, some kind of paperwork saying that it's a little delayed right now, so if y'all could be patient with us that would be fine with us, but we're not getting anything," Brown explained.

Wiley says many of the bus drivers are mothers themselves with school age kids, and recently they've had a lot of last minute calls saying they'll be out.

You may remember, last week four bus drivers resigned after their route times were cut. There will be a meeting on Monday to try to find a solution.


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