Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traffic Delays Buses, Not a Driver Shortage Cars Help Add to Campus Congestion, Officials Say

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traffic Delays Buses, Not a Driver Shortage Cars Help Add to Campus Congestion, Officials Say

Article excerpt

Byline: Tia Mitchell, Times-Union staff writer

There were no major crises yesterday, but the first day of school in Duval County brought the usual problems for transportation.

Many parents expressed concern that their child's bus showed up late. Delays are to be expected on the first day of school, officials said.

Last year, two of the contractors were short a total of more than 60 drivers -- leaving hundreds of students stranded with no way to get to school. Superintendent John Fryer and the contractors blamed the shortage on having only six weeks for the transition to a new transportation system.

Yesterday, all four contractors -- Atlantic Express, First Student, F.L. Gelaro and Westside LLC -- reported they had hired plenty of drivers to handle routes. They also had backup drivers and buses just in case.

Dan Miller, general manager for Atlantic Express, said there were a few buses running late, but most delays were due to drivers who lingered at stops to make sure children boarded the right bus.

"Things went very well this morning," Miller said. "It's customary to take a couple of days to get some timings ironed out. Parents just have to be patient."

Traffic appeared to be the main reason many buses ran late. Helene Kirkpatrick, principal at Twin Lakes Academy Middle School, said congestion at the entrance to the school caused backups. The school is on the same site off Florida 9A as Twin Lakes Elementary.

"I know here at the school itself all the buses came in, but the traffic was unbelievable with parents bringing children to school," Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said dropping off students creates two problems. First, the school isn't able to accurately measure how bus routes will be used throughout the year. And more motorists on the road means more traffic for bus drivers.

A similar problem was found at newly built Kernan Trail Elementary School and Kernan Middle School, both located off Kernan Boulevard between Atlantic and Beach boulevards. …

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