JCPS buses get revved up for first day; officials expect smoother start compared to last year

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Summer is almost in the books and students are about to open their books on a brand new school year.  Jefferson County Public Schools head back to class on Monday, August 15 and officials are getting ready and spent part of the final two weeks tackling transportation.

For 30 year bus driver Terri Evans, the first day feels like a holiday.

"Children pass on their excitement and everybody is hustling and bustling around and it's like Christmas; there's an excitement to try to get everything done and everything smooth and perfect," Evans said.

Aboard bus number 10-66, she keeps a constant eye on the riders, the route, and the road.

"You go through your route and you go through it and you go through it again and you hope they don't put up construction overnight and you just make sure it's smooth and try to stay on time," Evans said.

Summer vacation has ended for most all JCPS workers; many of whom are all trying to make sure it's a smoother start this year, compared to last year when a few students didn't get home until as late as 9:00 p.m..

When asked, "What's being done to make sure we have a more successful first day of school compared to last year," JCPS Transportation Director Rick Caple said, "I would disagree with that. We had 90% of our students home by 6 p.m. the first day. We had a couple of hiccups with a couple of elementariness but I believe those have been solved."

Changes have been put in place. Elementary students should have received a sticker with their bus information, and will wear that on their backpack this year.

"Students seem to pick up their back packs everyday versus forgetting to put the lanyard around their neck," Caple said.

With more students expected to ride the bus this year, it makes practice runs very important.

"We need to get familiar with the bus stops; some of these routes are new to the bus drivers and also the community needs to get used to us being out there in the neighborhoods," Caple said.

While practice makes perfect, officials are up front: they're going to be late on the first day.

"In the mornings everybody wants to give a last hug they want to take a picture of the child walking up on the bus and we understand that but every time we spend another minute at a stop we get late to school," Caple said.

But they expect a smooth ending.

"Last year was a very unusual day. I think it's been blown way out of proportion," Caple said.

While no one's looking back, Terri Evans is looking forward to Monday, August 15 and she's keeping cooler than the weather.

"Stressful? I can't say it's stressful; I really can't say it's stressful. It's only big if you let it be big," Evans laughed.

Officials say if your student isn't home when you expect them, don't panic.  They say the worst thing you can do is call 911. They've instead set up a new hotline:  485-RIDE (7433).

JCPS Transportation at a glance:

930 buses
15 of those are hybrid
15 more hybrid buses are expected in September
100,000 miles a day will be drive by all the bus drivers
66,000 students will ride the bus
35 buses have cameras
33 more buses are expected to be equipped with cameras in September

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