Dorchester District 2 fields thousands of bus complaints

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Live 5 News investigation uncovered thousands of bus issues across the Tri-County area.

So far this school year, Dorchester District 2 had fielded 3,580 bus-related complaints. According to information from DD2, the majority of those complaints are because of a late, early, or missed school bus.

The Charleston County School district had 2, 795 and the Berkeley County School District had 920.

Not all of the complaints are validated by the districts.

Ainslee Pickenpaugh said she’s been dealing with late bus issues in DD2 for months.

“The kids and everybody would be outside, and nobody would know what was going on,” Pickenpaugh said. “My grandson has been late to middle school, he’s getting in there almost towards that end of his first period.”

DD2’s transportation director Steve Shope said a nationwide bus driver shortage and traffic issues are to blame.

“It’s been harder to keep the force that we’ve had,” Shope said. “With the economy being better we’re competing with amazon and Mercedes and Volvo here in the lowcountry.”

Shope said every time they get one driver trained, another is leaving. He also said the turnover appears to be more difficult this year.

“It’s challenging when we have 27 bus drivers out on a single day out of 180-ish that we have on staff. When we have 27 out it makes it really hard,” Shope said.

Shope said the district is also working on communication with parents to let them know when the bus will be late.

“I’m hoping we have it next year in place where parents will see on a smart phone where the bus is and how far out it is from them and that system also will let them send them a message to the parents on a specific bus or one to specific parent if there’s an issue with his or her bus stop,” Shope said.

Pickenpaugh said she hopes that change comes sooner than later so her grandson won’t continue to miss class time.

“He had an astronomically high number of being late and being absent and I’m like he wasn’t absent,” Pickenpaugh said. “It did it affect his grades because he would not be in class long enough to get the information he needed.”

“We don’t want the parents to have any complaints and it’s a big deal when your child is standing out there and the bus is 20 minutes late,” Shope said.

Information from DD2 shows the district has 169 bus routes and make a total of 9,114 stops a day.

“If we get 20 complaints a day when we’re running 9,100 bus stops a day it’s kind of a small number,” Shope said.

DD2 operates its own transportation department using buses from the state department of education and buses owned by the district. Until 2015 the district used Durham Bus Services.

Shope said since their drivers have had to run less routes. He said drivers previously had to do triple and double routes.

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