Ongoing Roanoke bus delays cost Durham School Services nearly $740,000

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The ongoing bus delays with Roanoke City Public Schools are costing Durham School Services a high price in penalty fees.

RCPS has the ability to fine the bus company every time there’s a late pickup or a late drop-off. At least 24 buses are having to double up on routes to get students to and from school.

One concerned parent explained the double routes are causing kids to be late to school or late coming home.

“With my daughter, she’s young, so her day being extended by an hour is a little bit too much for her,” Felicia Justice said.

Justice is mom to a kindergartner, middle and high schooler who all take the bus. She explained the delays started a few years ago when Durham took over.

“My son, throughout his whole seventh grade year, his bus came late every morning and he’s about an hour late home every day,” Justice said.

There’s a cost attached to doubling up on routes and anytime there’s a delay. If a bus arrives 10-30 minutes late to school, it’s a $25 fine. If it’s longer than 30 minutes, the fine goes up to $50.

RCPS fined Durham School Services $737,041.84 for delays in the 2021-2022 school year. In an emailed statement to WDBJ7, Durham confirmed the company received the fines.

“Our company has paid these fines as they were incurred due to us having to double up on our assigned routes,” Vice President of External Communication Edward Flavin said.

Justice explained how the company has not provided a solution since the bus driver shortage began.

“We’ve been more than reasonable because my son went a whole school year doing this with the delays,” Justice said. “I just don’t understand how the shortage could explain him still not having a regular bus driver.”

The company’s contract with RCPS states buses must “deliver students within a reasonable time prior to the opening of the various schools and so as to return them to their respective bus stops within a reasonable time after the close of the school day.”

Justice explained how she thinks the bus company is not picking up and dropping off students within a reasonable time.

“I don’t believe that they’re honoring or fulfilling their contract,” Justice said. “It’s always just these business excuses.”

Durham explained in a statement the company is continuing to offer sign-on and referral bonuses to applicants. RCPS also sent WDBJ7 a statement explaining they encourage Durham to “think outside the box to find creative solutions.”