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Lee County bus drivers react to new route changes

Lee County bus drivers react to new route changes

By Cory O'Donnell. CREATED Nov 17, 2011

LEE COUNTY - Fox 4 sat down with school bus drivers Gayle Waters and Barbara Howard.
Together they have almost 40 years experience.  Both say the new routes this school year are putting your kids safety at risk.

“We're not thinking about the kids we're thinking about the bottom line"
 Waters says. “You've got 4 and 5 year olds that are going to school they have to walk half a mile.”

“Well little Johnny was getting picked up just past his house but now he's got to walk down two blocks of dark area to be picked up at a lit area at a main road.” Howard says.

Which is a tradeoff.  As we previously reported, some kids, especially in gated communities, are walking almost two miles to catch the bus.

“It's sad that we have to cut here and there and it puts the kids at more of a danger." Howard says.

But board member Don Armstrong says the changes could save the district millions.  Both drivers admit the new routes are cutting back on ride times, fuel costs and wear and tear.

Waters: “As far as the bean counters go they're going to like it, but we're talking about children.”
FOX 4: “So you'd favor going back to the old system?”
Waters: “Yes…What is the price of safety…that is the bottom line.”

That has Howard issuing a challenge.  “My say would be to have the school board members ride the bus have them come out and see at 5:30 in the morning what's going on out there."

Howard says she'll even drive the bus, for a ride she believes will change their minds.