Unit 5 Pushing Bus Contractor To Find A Solution | WGLT

Unit 5 Pushing Bus Contractor To Find A Solution

Sep 15, 2016

Students board a Unit 5 bus, operated by First Student, at Coleen Hoose elementary school
Credit Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit 5 school board members say the district's bus contractor needs to increase its supply of drivers as soon as possible. Driver absenteeism has frequently made students up to two hours late to class. 

Superintendent Mark Daniel said he knows contractor First Student is struggling to find drivers, but the company should have been thinking about this since the school year began. 

"I'm hoping they're serious in regards to finding those additional drivers, going to other districts across our state," said Daniel. "I also heard from other states such as Wisconsin and Missouri, that they pull drivers."

Board Member Barry Hitchens proposed a vote to opt out of First Student's contract if there are no changes by the next scheduled board meeting, September 28.

On the other side of the wheel, bus drivers are frustrated with their working environment under First Student. Veteran driver JB Johnson told the school board there has never been a transportation situation that was "this chaotic".

"I have three extra routes now and two of those routes start at the same time. I have one at Highbrow and one for Parkside Jr. High," said Johnson. "There's no way I can be at two places at one time, which means I am going to be late everyday for one of those routes. These are special needs children."

Johnson said bus drivers deserve more respect and need people to rally behind them in order to improve the disaster.