Parents concerned about new bus stop

July 30, 2012 8:02:14 PM PDT
Some parents in South Durham are fired up about changes to their children's school bus stop.

They cite cars going in every direction, some of them speeding, and no sidewalks as just a few reasons they are concerned. The school system said it's trying to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's a typical Monday morning in South Durham. Nancy Smith walked her daughter to the school bus stop. It's a longer hike because there's a new bus stop policy.

However, that's not the problem. The new bus stop is located in a roundabout with speeders and drivers failing to yield as they approached the traffic circle.

"My biggest fear is that one of these kids is going to get hit by a car," said Smith, "because there's no sidewalk for them to wait on. I fear that. I don't let her stand in the road. It's either on the grass or on the curb."

"The bus stops we're making this year are bus stops we've had in the past," said Scott Denton, with the Durham Public Schools' Transportation Department. "We're consolidating those stops."

So what's behind the change? Apparently it's money.

"We're having to react to, unfortunately, and provide a little less service than we have in the past," said Denton.

With about 19,000 students bussed every day to more than 5,000 stops countywide, Durham Public Schools is looking to save about $800,000 by creating single-stops in each neighborhood.

"You've got to take a look at where are the kids sitting," said parent Michael White. "Where are the kids standing when you've got cars coming around the corner that may or may not be going the speed limit. You can't put a price tag on that."

Parents told ABC11 that there's a safer alternative just a few feet up the road at the neighborhood clubhouse. However, transportation officials said they're concerned about kids dodging cars as they walk across the roundabout.

"We just want it moved to a safer place and if it means having more than one stop in a neighborhood then that might be what has to happen," said Smith.

With the start of year round schools, Durham has received about a dozen parent complaints which forced the school system to move at least two bus stops.

Denton is encouraging parental supervision at stops, but he admits there's room for improvement.

"There is room for ensuring the safety of our students and we certainly wouldn't jeopardize the safety of our students intentionally," said Denton.

"It's not sufficient for somebody in Downtown to send us an email and say 'Yeah, we checked that bus stop out and it was fine.' Why don't you come out here at 8 o'clock and take a look at it and tell me it's fine."

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