By Annette Newell
The Wake County Public School System is adding 16 more buses on the roads as of Tuesday morning after receiving thousands of complaints about late or absent buses.
That will make 927 buses this year, for the school system's 151,000 students. That's down from last year when there were 932 buses for 146,000 students.
Late buses are just one concern for Wake County parents. One family was alarmed when a bus driver apparently didn't know where he was going.
Eight-year-old Hadley Crawford says her bus driver got lost Tuesday afternoon and asked the children where he was supposed to drive.
“He said, 'OK everyone, where is your stop? I don't know where any of you live,” said Hadley. She did not expect that question from her bus driver on the way home from Underwood Elementary.
Her mother, Morgan Crawford, was at the bus stop wondering what happened to her daughter. She found out the bus left the school at 4:06 Tuesday afternoon.
“We still wait, but it becomes more like 5:30 and 5:45,” Crawford said.
Crawford was waiting for her little girl at the corner of Buckingham and Lake Boone Trail, the 8-year-old's bus stop. But she says the bus never stopped there.
Hadley said she told the driver where her stop was. “I said it's Lake Boone and Buckingham. He was like, 'I don't know where that is.”
Crawford added, “I would think that if my daughter can give the exact intersection, then a bus should be able to find that location.”
Hadley says she spotted a familiar location. “I said you know what, could you just drop me off at my grandma's house? He said, 'Which one?' I said, 'That one.”
She got in the house and called her mom.
“So the phone rings a little bit before 6, and it's her on the phone calling from my mom's house, crying,” Crawford recalled.
She says Wake Schools Transportation Department told her they're looking into the incident.
“My 8-year-old had to find me on her way home from her second day of school, in third grade, and that's just not acceptable,” Crawford said.
Last week Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata said all bus drivers had a practice run before school started.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Wake Board of Education is meeting and transportation issues are on the agenda.