‘I can’t sit here and wait’: Some JCPS parents frustrated with day one bus delays

The shortage, currently 54 drivers, was anticipated and communicated by district leaders.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 10:21 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public School students returned to the classroom Wednesday for the 2022-2023 school year amid a bus driver shortage that brought delays to both the morning and afternoon commutes.

“Yes, unfortunately the students will be late,” JCPS Executive Director of Transportation Marcus Dobbs said on Tuesday.

The shortage, currently 54 drivers, was anticipated and communicated by district leaders.

That said, it did cause headaches for several parents and students.

“So if you knew that before school started, I feel like they should wait until everything is up to par, everything is ready,” JCPS parent Teandra Bykes told WAVE News.

Bykes lives in Valley Station. Her 8-year-old son, Gionni, goes to Trunnell Elementary.

On Wednesday morning, she told WAVE News they waited roughly an hour for the bus before she drove him to school around 9:15 a.m.

She didn’t see him for again for roughly 10 hours.

“He was supposed to be here by like 4:45 p.m., 4:50 p.m.,” Bykes said. “[And] he showed up today at 7:00... no, 6:40 p.m.”

Jennifer A. had a different issue.

She told WAVE News her two sons, who are Waggener High School students, sat on two buses for a combined hour and forty minutes on their commute home; buses that didn’t leave Waggener’s parking lot.

So, she left work and picked them up.

“I can’t sit here and wait, because we don’t know when this bus is actually going to leave,” Jennifer told WAVE News over the phone. “It’s raining outside, I’ve got to hurry up and get to my sons’ school, get them picked up, get them dropped off at home before my daughter gets dropped off. And I still have to go back to work.”

After Jennifer called WAVE News Wednesday afternoon, WAVE News drove to Waggener High School.

A news crew did not see the her sons’ buses, but did see, at one point, six buses in the parking lot. This was while administrators moved younger students from bus to bus.

One of the buses, Bus #1815, was in the parking lot for an hour and fifteen minutes before driving off with students onboard.

“I’m not depending on JCPS or their bus systems schedule, whatever they’re calling this, because in my opinion they should’ve done something about this in the summer,” Jennifer A. said.

Wednesday evening, a JCPS spokesperson submitted a day-one recap via email.

The email can be read in full below (bolded statements in original):

A majority of our bus riders were home by 6:30 tonight. All bus riders were home before 7:30 p.m.

As of this email, our first day enrollment count is 86,449 students. This number is very tentative as 21 schools had not verified their information when this report was pulled. This count includes Pathfinder numbers but does not include special schools such as hospitals, state agency schools, or early childhood enrollments. This information is on par with last year’s first day enrollment count.

JCPS served nearly 48,000 lunches to students today. This number is coming from our early data and may change as more paperwork comes in.

We received several questions today from reporters about our Bus Delay Dashboard. Here are some reminders:

  • These routes are late due to the bus driver shortage.
  • Dashboard will be updated every Saturday afternoon (around 2 p.m.) for changes to the upcoming week.
  • Unexpected delays are not listed on this page. Unexpected delays occur when a bus driver calls in sick or misses work for another reason.
  • Yes, we are still hiring bus drivers! Drivers not only have to go through the interview process, they also have to have a DOT physical, go through CDL certification (if they don’t already have it), and successfully complete training. We have about 80 drivers in the pipeline. We have extended job offers to half of those and they are working toward their CDLs. The other half are in the process of meeting the minimum qualifications to pursue a CDL.
  • We have approximately 1450 bus routes right now. When early childhood starts we will have approximately 1700 bus routes.”
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