Students forced to stand on overcrowded buses

The photos showed several students standing in the aisles, some of them holding onto seats.
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 11:45 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Brook Buehner said she was shocked when her oldest child showed her photos of their overcrowded bus when they came home from school Wednesday.

The photos showed several students standing in the aisles, some of them holding onto seats.

Her child is Kaden Hawkins, a 17-year-old student at Fern Creek High School who said overcrowding has been a regular occurrence on the bus ride home.

“The overcrowding that’s been happening has been going on pretty much since the start of the school year,” Hawkins said. “It’s worse in the afternoon, and it pretty much peaked two days ago on Wednesday whenever the kids were standing and we were all cramped three to a seat.”

Buehner then called Fern Creek High School and the transportation office to express her concerns about the crowded bus. She said she spoke to one of the JCPS employees on that bus who told her that after trying to get the students to sit down, he decided to let it go.

“He said at the end of the day I had to make a decision,” Buehner said. “Either kick the kids off and make them very late getting home or just send them and get them home.”

Buehner took to Facebook to voice her concern and shared the photos. The post quickly gained traction and currently has over 800 shares.

“I didn’t expect that to get that big,” Buehner said. “But I’m glad it did because it needed to be seen.”

WAVE News was told by a JCPS spokesperson that standard buses can legally carry up to 66 passengers with three to a seat. However, if there are more than 60 high school students on a bus, it’s unlikely all of them can fit comfortably in a seat and may choose or need to stand.

We were also told the district has 18 new buses which can hold 78 passengers. The district is using those for routes where more than 60 students are projected to be on multiple routes run by that bus.

According to the Kentucky Administrative Regulations on the Kentucky General Assembly website, the bus driver must make sure the seating capability of the bus has been fully utilized before any student is permitted to stand in the bus aisle.

However, guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that “standing while school buses and school-chartered buses are in motion should not be permitted. Routing and seating plans should be coordinated so as to eliminate passengers standing when a school bus or school-chartered bus is in motion.”

Buehner said she’s worried that students will be injured if they’re standing in the aisle and their bus happens to get into a crash.

She said that just two years ago her youngest child was written up for sticking his leg in the aisle.

Now, she said it’s frustrating that students are suddenly being allowed to stand in the aisle, and she feels the district is ignoring the safety hazard because they don’t have enough drivers.

“Now it’s like well it’s convenient for us to let your kid stand, so it’s okay,” Buehner said.