‘No one talked to us personally’: JCPS bus driver weighs in on transportation issues

‘No one talked to us personally’: JCPS bus driver weighs in on transportation issues
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 7:08 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Since the bus chaos on JCPS’ first day of school, bus drivers have been out practicing their routes and trying to make them more efficient.

Kentucky’s largest school district announced elementary and middle schools will report back on Friday, August 18.

It will be the first time testing the updated plan.

“When I heard about the stories, it hurt me because I was part of the stories,” JCPS bus driver Cameron Brown said, “If I was a parent and my child was coming home at 9 p.m., that’s just not acceptable by any means.”

Brown has been driving for JCPS for about two years. He grew up in the Newburg area, which would be perfect for Brown, but that’s not near his route.

“I’m driving from Preston Highway and Dixie,” Brown said. “Then I am all the way down in the West End. Honestly, I make good time when there’s no traffic.”

The district’s new AI-generated bus routes broke Brown’s system.

AlphaRoute did not account for weather, traffic patterns, or delays. He said on the first day of school, he was about 45 minutes behind schedule.

This year, Brown has nine different schools on his route.

“I’ve seen so many kids and it’s hectic,” Brown said. “It’s just like who is that person? You are all over the place. I don’t feel like it was structured properly, or at least no one talked to us personally before they made the decision to do what they did.

”The Artificial Intelligence system the district used cost half a million dollars to implement. JCPS bus drivers were given their routes about a week before school started and still had to make changes.

Brown believes the transportation nightmare could’ve been different if the drivers were more involved in the process.

”If they gave bus drivers the money to split and make the routes, you would have more drivers, people wanting and willing to work,” Brown said. “Then, you wouldn’t have so many disagreements and uproar like we have right now. You have bus drivers right now saying it’s not worth what I am getting paid.”

Brown said the best part of driving for JCPS is building relationships with families and being able to pick up and drop off kids safely.

On Tuesday, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio and Chief Operations Officer Chris Perkins provided the board with an update on what happened with transportation on day one and short- and long-term solutions.