UPDATE: JCPS' youngest students have smoother return to school after busing fiasco
Thousands of Louisville students returned for their second day of class on Friday, with bus routes running relatively smoothly. Transportation issues last week left Jefferson County Public Schools reeling.
The district’s new bus route plan for the school year, which added 5,000 stops and was prompted by a bus driver shortage, misfired on the first day of school, Aug. 9, and left many families waiting hours for their kids to get back home.
Several changes are now in place, intended to get buses moving quicker and to alert parents where their children are.
Vehicles at the Detrick Bus Depot in the Jacobs neighborhood, one of several depots where students change buses, took off early Friday morning to get kids to class.
At that point, JCPS spokesperson Mark Hebert said the 7 a.m. buses were about 10 minutes behind schedule. He said the district anticipated delays throughout the day, but officials expected them to be shorter.
“There is really going to be a number of buses that are going to be running late. We hope they're not running extraordinarily late — you know, three, four hours late — but there are going to be some that are over an hour late getting home tonight,” Hebert said.
In the end, JCPS buses dropped off the last student at 7:43 p.m., almost two hours earlier than the final arrival on the first day of school. In a news release, the district indicated Friday’s timing was on par with what it saw on the first day of school last year.
A local parent, Andrea Johnson, said busing on the second day of school went “tremendously well” for her fourth grader, Kamya.
The bus was only about 10 minutes late in the morning, and in the afternoon Kamya got dropped off at her stop 12 minutes early.
Johnson’s fingers are crossed that next week goes well, too. That’s when JCPS’s high schoolers – including her son Bryan – go back to class.
“It was just elementary and middle school today, so hopefully it’s still on track by Monday. But it makes me nervous,” she said.
About two-thirds of JCPS’ 96,000 students use the district’s buses to get to school, and the district has just under 600 bus drivers.
If Monday goes smoothly, Johnson said she’ll probably feel a bit better, although she still has concerns about her family’s bus stop being situated on busy Shelbyville Road.
“JCPS has to get it together for, you know, us parents. And ultimately, we just want our babies safe – that’s all,” she said.
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio praised the “phenomenal job” done by his district’s bus drivers and staff on Friday.
“The short-term adjustments we put in place were successful and we continue to work on more substantial, long-term solutions,” he said in a statement Friday evening. “I’m pleased with the effort and look forward to welcoming our high school students back on Monday.”
Concerning next week, JCPS spokesperson Hebert said if parents notice delays, they should wait 45 minutes to an hour before calling either the school or the district’s 485-RIDE (7433) number.