Roanoke City bus provider Durham School Services promises fixes in action plan

Action plan delivered after school board was unimpressed by latest Durham update

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City School leaders continue to pressure Durham School Services to get its act together. This as the holidays are nearly upon us, and some business issues that started on day one of school have still not been fixed.

Last week, the school board got an update from Durham which they viewed as unsatisfactory and demanded an action plan by the following day. Durham met its deadline, but the school division chose to wait five days before giving 10 News its requested copy.

The meeting last week was the first time we saw a school board that was no longer willing to be lenient, even bringing up what the contract said about terminating the company.

But, while board Chairman Mark Cathey was pleased with the plan, the real test will be if Durham can deliver. Wednesday marks three months since the first day of school in Roanoke and while many of the bus issues have been resolved, there are still some that need fixing.

According to Durham’s action plan, the company is still short nine drivers and that’s what the company says continues to cause late pickup and dropoffs, drivers to run double routes, or buses that fail to show up altogether.

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Durham Action Plan, pg. 1

The school board was unimpressed by the latest update and demanded the plan on information not only about their system, but neighboring systems, and how Durham plans to fix the problems.

Roanoke City bus drivers receive the highest starting hourly wage in the area and are offered full benefits. That’s why some school board members are perplexed that Durham continues to have a problem, suggesting it may be an issue with the company and not a money issue.

Durham said all employees will be evaluated on their customer service and that it will work to improve issues with their bus tracker, a tool they said would be a big help in satisfying frustrated parents. Some who used the app reported being even more frustrated by the fact it didn’t work. The company also said it is increasing marketing efforts, specifically on the radio, in print media, and on social media.

Cathey said the board has not acted upon the report yet. Last week the board reminded Durham it could terminate its contract, but said that would be the nuclear option and good for no one.

The board said the bus topic will remain on its agenda until the problem is solved.