Will Wake County buses run smoothly this year?


There are a lot of reasons to think this year will be different. One thing is clear, however, a lot has been done since last year's bus system breakdown.

Last year, there were too few bus routes, too few drivers, and too long of wait times. Many parents were were fed up.

This year, the school system is promising changes. Some of those changes are already visible.

A fleet of bus drivers who have all already run through their routes in real time three or four times. There's also a new website where parents can see whether their child's bus is on time or how late it is.

GPS units on every bus are letting the school system see where slow spots are to make changes. If there are problems, parents should notice a difference.

"One of the other things we've got in place this year is an enhanced customer service system," said Wake County Schools spokesperson Renee McCoy.

So far, there was at least one potential problem highlighted -- long ride times.

"So almost an hour and a half for the kids on that bus to go from East Raleigh to Holly Springs as their base assignment," said Wake County school board member John Tedesco.

How many bus route could see hour, hour and a half ride times? Quite a few according to school transportation heads. That's something school officials say they'll take a closer look at and be watching as school gets underway.

Any long rides would affect the more rural areas.

Transportation experts say the long rides are just one of the kinks possible in the new system. They say it will take more than a year to implement and perfect the plan. For now, the board plans to revisit and possibly revamp any bus rides longer than an hour in a few weeks time.

One issue school officials don't think they'll need to revisit is mechanics taking over behind the wheel.

"Last year, we were pulling district operations managers and bus mechanics out of their positions to get behind the wheel of a yellow bus because they had a commercial driver's license," said David Neter, with Wake County Schools.

Neter says the more than $2 million pumped into the plan includes more bus drivers, which means those mechanics and managers can stick to doing what they do best.

Parents with any busing questions can call (919) 805-3030

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