Wake Ed

August 25, 2014

Opening of traditional-calendar schools to test Wake County school bus changes

The opening of traditional-calendar schools in Wake County will test how well the revamping of the district’s bus routes has worked out.

Today will be the first major test of the revamping of Wake County’s school bus routes for the 2014-15 school year.

As noted in Sunday’s article, Wake dropped 116 routes and 4,000 stops from last school year. Other bus stops were changed or moved as well.

Wake County parents who haven’t yet checked online to see their child’s bus stop could be in for a surprise. Even if they do check, they may find that the one they expect to be their stop isn’t the one designated by Wake.

Also, some parents who thought they were grandfathered for bus service may find out they’re not. Only new bus riders were supposed to register this year but I’ve heard of several reports of families who found out during school orientation events last week that the district isn’t showing them assigned to a bus even though they rode one last year.

If you’re in that category, your child is supposed to be allowed on the bus Monday with a temporary 10-day bus pass given while the problem is resolved.

While Wake’s website tells families to send their child to the closest stop, you’ve also got some parents saying they found out during orientation that they’re assigned to a stop that’s not the closest.

While all this is going on, hundreds of parents who found out ahead of time that their bus stop had changed have asked Wake to change it on the grounds that it’s not a safe location. David Neter, Wake’s chief business officer, said over 90 percent of the stops they’ve reviewed so far were indeed safe as they didn’t have problems such as being in a dimly lit area or requiring students to cross multiple lanes of traffic.

Neter said those rejected requests, made by parents wanting the convenience of a closer stop, are taking time away from the investigation of legitimate requests.

While parents might question the changes, Neter said each eliminated stop will shave minutes off the bus ride. After awhile, it adds up. Neter said they had situations last year where the bus would stop, drive a few hundred feet to the next stop, and so on that made the route less efficient.

Wake expects this year’s first-week issues to not be as bad as 2012, but we’ll see.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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