PBC Schools adding 110 new buses; majority will head to south county

Watchdog: 70% of buses broke down last year

WEST PALM BEACH - The countdown is on. It's almost time to jump back on the bus.

Paige Jack wants the road back to school to be smoother than the bumps her children had last year.

"In the last three weeks of school, it probably broke down 4 or 5 times," Jack explained of her children's bus.

A Consumer Watchdog investigation found broken buses district wide. Seventy-percent of the district's buses broke down at least once last year.

"I think it's just not acceptable," Jack explained.

Jack's children rode bus 419. School district records show it broke down at least 15 times last year. The bus stalled, overheated, and once had an oil leak.

The  mechanical problems caused children to be stranded at their bus stop.

"A lot of times I would drive the kids to school or volunteer to take a bunch of kids to school and drive past some of the other stops and let them know," Jack explained.

Parents say their kids don't get to school on time.

"So that's teaching them that it's ok to be late and it's just not in real life," explained Jack.

In our investigation, parents, mechanics, and bus drivers all raised safety concerns.

Last spring, the district dismissed the concerns calling it a challenge rather than a problem.

There's now a new transportation director and a new focus on fixing the problems.

We asked David Davis, the new director, what he would say to parents who are fed up with the late buses.

"We are going to do better," Davis explained.

Davis joined the district a month ago.

"I am new to the district and I know of the past issues, but I am here to make the process better and move forward," Davis said.

Davis wants to make sure fewer buses get stuck on the side of the road.

"Seventy-percent is too high. We need to lower that," Davis said.

The district blames and older fleet for the maintenance issues so it's adding 110 new shiny buses. It's the first time the district added buses in 3 years. 

"With the new fleet coming in we will be able to utilize our older fleet as spares," explained Davis.

The District hopes to double the number of spares. Last year, there weren't enough spares when buses broke down.

"A lot of times I would drive the kids to school," explained Jack.

Jack lives up north and we found not one of the new buses is headed to that part of the county.

All but 15 will head south to towns like Boca Raton and Delray Beach.

That area will be targeted in part to keep the buses close to the Broward County leasing company.

"The vendor will take care of any maintenance issues in the first five years of the lease agreement," explained Davis.

Some of last year's biggest problem buses will stay on the roads this year.

For example, bus 842 which went in the shop 41 times for repairs and the bus Jack's children rode which broke down at least 15 times.

"I think we made a drastic improvement this summer. We fixed a lot of vehicles and are ready to go," explained Davis.

Parents are hopeful.

"I just assume they are going to take care of it," Jack explained. "We will find out Monday."

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT YOUR CHILD'S BUS ROUTE AND STOP

If you have an issue with your child's bus, email details to consumerwatchdog@wptv.com or follow the conversation on Jenn's Facebook page.

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