08/24/08 — County school district announces plans to change, cut back on some bus stops

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County school district announces plans to change, cut back on some bus stops

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 24, 2008 12:19 PM

School bus routes for middle and high school students have been changed slightly this year -- a move that is expected to save the district up to $382,000 in fuel costs, officials said Friday.

Fluctuating gas prices prompted the decision, with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction's transportation services department recommending school districts consolidate bus stops, revamp bus routes and enforce local reduced idling policies.

News-Argus/Bobby Williams

Lynwood Cox, left, and Scott Ham maintain the buses at the Wayne County Bus Garage. Changes in the bus stops this year could save the schools $382,000

To help conserve fuel locally, officials announced the decision to reduce the number of bus stops when school resumes on Monday.

Parents were notified during open houses this week about the changes. Elementary routes are not affected.

"State officials have asked us to find ways to cut back, and we have identified approximately 154 subdivisions around Wayne County where bus drivers will now pick up middle and high school students at the entrances along the main road, instead of going in and making multiple stops," said Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services in the school system.

In a school system where the fleet of school buses travels more than two million miles each school year, transportation director Raymond Smith said the shift in bus routes is necessary.

On average, nine stops are made each day per subdivision. Smith estimated that by paring that number down to one stop, the district would save an estimated four miles a day per bus. Districtwide, he said, that will reduce travel by nearly 624 miles a day, eliminating 1,386 bus stops from daily routes.

State law allows students to be picked up at bus stops up to one mile from their home.

When officials surveyed the subdivisions in Wayne County, it was determined that on average, the farthest stop from any entrance would be about one-half mile.

Even though the change only pertains to older children in middle and high school, a certain amount of disatisfaction is anticipated, school officials said.

"We know moving bus stops to the entrance of subdivisions will cause some inconvenience for parents, but we feel these steps are necessary in the wake of high fuel prices and the need for us to find effective ways to cut back fuel usage," Smith said.

At this point, one anticipated exception will be in the case of inclement weather, said Ken Derksen, public information officer for Wayne County Public Schools. In such cases, he said, adjustments will be made to accommodate students.