The safe transportation of our students is of the utmost importance to us in Richland Two. We understand parents’ and schools’ frustration when buses break down and students are delayed.
We hope to see some improvement now that we have received 11 new buses from the State Department of Education to replace some of our oldest and most unreliable route buses. The buses we received, along with older buses we get to keep and use as spares, will help improve the consistency and reliability of the transportation services we provide our students.
Additionally, our Transportation Department will continue to make every effort to maximize our resources. For example, all of our 75 regular buses are triple-routed, which means they run an elementary, middle and high school route before and after school.
The limitations of our diminished and aging fleet, however, present unavoidable issues that affect students and families around our district. When buses break down in the morning, which is a common occurrence, our students miss valuable instructional time. If this occurs in the afternoon, students are not getting home until much later in the day, sometimes more than an hour after school has been dismissed. It is important to note that these delays can often times impact the same students due to an unreliable bus, which magnifies the concerns even more. Parents and school employees are justifiably upset when these incidents occur, and we are left with no immediate remedy or forecast for relief.
Our School Board has reached out to State Education Department to share details about the challenges and frustrations we face because:
- We have more than 27,000 students in Richland Two with a bus fleet size of 125.
- Fifty-six percent of our fleet is older than 15 years, the state target age for replacement. Our percentage is higher than many other Midlands area districts including Lexington One: 51%; Lexington Three: 52%; Lexington/Richland Five: 50%; and Richland One: 50%.
- Of our 12 spare buses, 11 of them are older than 15 years (1988 = 4, 1990 = 1, 1991 = 2, 1994 = 3, 1995 = 1, 2008=1).
- Our operable fleet includes 13 buses from 1988.
Richland Two recognizes that the problems that the State Department of Education faces may be due to issues with funding, and we have offered our assistance in working with the state legislature to secure adequate funding for the state’s public school bus fleet.