“Completely unsafe”: Parents upset after video surfaces of kids forced to stand on crowded bus

BRUSLY — A number of parents are expressing dissatisfaction with the current bus situation after some Brusly High students recorded other students standing up during overcrowded bus rides.

Two videos captured by students and shared with UWK by concerned parents depict overcrowded buses, with students standing in the aisles. In one of the recordings, it’s evident that students are attempting to accommodate three individuals per seat, although unsuccessfully.

“It made me angry,” voiced one parent whose child regularly rides the bus. “There are only a certain number of kids allowed on the bus, and for them to have all these children standing up in the aisle driving down the road or highway is completely unsafe. If the bus got in the wreck, what happens to all those kids who are standing up in the aisle?”

The parent, who asked not to be named, added that her daughter is uncomfortable with the current bus conditions but has no alternative means of transportation at present.

The West Baton Rouge Parish School System does not directly manage bus transportation. Instead, the district has contracted DS Bus Lines to oversee busing operations.

“I’ve spoken to the bus company, and all they can tell me is that they’re short-staffed,” the parent told UWK. “It’s unsafe, and I don’t like it. It’s frustrating. To think that kids have to arrive to and from school like this is infuriating.”

West Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Chandler Smith tells UWK that he has communicated with DS Bus Lines and was informed of a shortage of four drivers.

“They indicated to me that they haven’t received any reports of students standing,” Smith said. “While they have had to implement double routes at times, buses typically aren’t fully occupied. Although they can accommodate three students per seat when running double routes, it’s not the standard practice. When a bus does run a double route, it should not have any students standing.”

The bus company acknowledged the driver shortage and mentioned that two individuals are on the verge of completing the training program to become new drivers, with plans for them to start this week. Additionally, two more drivers have recently commenced the training program, which typically lasts between three to six weeks.

Smith also mentioned reaching out to Charlotte Blanchard, the supervisor of child welfare and transportation liaison for WBR schools, who stated that no complaints regarding students standing during bus rides had been reported.

“I don’t want kids to be in an unsafe situation,” Smith said. “Transportation has been an issue nationwide. When COVID hit, a lot of our drivers were older. They started to get scared that they were gonna get sick and then the younger people that can go sometimes make more money doing something else. It’s a four-hour-a-day job. It’s part-time work, but it’s right in the middle of the day, so it’s kind of hard to go get another job.”

Smith said the school district’s contract with DS Bus expires after the 2025-26 school year. 

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