Concerns continue to grow as bus delays at Roanoke City Public Schools continue

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Parents are getting more concerned over continued bus delays with Roanoke City Public Schools.

Parents told WDBJ7 the issues started in the first few weeks of school. But that was nearly a month ago, and bus delays are still happening.

“This is the biggest issue I’ve seen so far,” RCPS parent Ada Rodriguez said.

Bus drivers are also concerned about the delays happening for students.

“We are short on drivers; we’re having to do double routes,” Durham School Services bus driver Michelle Ray said.

Rodriguez explained her five-year-old son comes home nearly 40 minutes late every day.

“I came to the point where I had to put a little GPS on his backpack just to make sure that I know when he’s coming home and what time he’s actually being dropped off,” Rodriguez said. “They tell us 40 minutes, but there’s not an exact time when you know he’s going to be dropped off.”

Ray explained staffing shortages are causing frustration for everyone.

“It’s hard on parents, it’s hard on children, children want to go home,” Ray said. “I do a double in the morning and these kids are getting to school late.”

Rodriguez explained the delays are challenging for working parents.

“It does take a toll because it’s something that you have to do extra just to leave work, then drop them off, then come back to work,” Rodriguez said.

Ray explained the wages are part of the shortage issue.

“That does have a significant impact on why we can’t keep people,” Ray said. “I think if they did probably offer more pay, it would be able to subsidize some of the drivers and some of our issues.”

Roanoke City Public Schools created a transportation work group to focus on the issues causing the delays.

“Hopefully they can get things fixed,” Rodriguez said. “I can drop my kids off every day but I have no way to pick them up. I have to rely on the bus.”

RCPS sent WDBJ7 a statement about the work group and parent concerns. The coordinator of communications and public relations explained how the school is working to resolve the ongoing issues.

“We understand and share our families’ frustrations and concerns related to ongoing transportation issues in Roanoke City Public Schools,” Claire Mitzel said. “The formation of the work group illustrates RCPS’ commitment to holding Durham, as the contract vendor, accountable for quality service.”

Durham School Services also sent WDBJ7 a statement two weeks ago. The vice president of external communications explained some of the bus drivers are working on their training and certifications.

“Our team is working tirelessly to minimize disruptions and delays to service as much as possible,” Edward Flavin said. “We continue to diligently recruit school bus drivers.”

Roanoke City Public Schools said even with the ongoing delays, they have not had to cancel any of the bus routes.