Parents frustrated over Lynchburg bus routes, school leaders are apologizing

‘Software consultants have been working directly with LCS to resolve these issues’

Driving students to and from Lynchburg City Schools is hitting some road blocks causing a lot of frustration and confusion among parents.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The wheels on the bus might go ‘round and ‘round, but parents say they’re getting the runaround from Lynchburg school leaders when it comes to their children being picked up.

“We have not had a bus schedule at all to pick up our children or drop them off back at home,” said Tiffany Martin, who has two children enrolled at Heritage Elementary.

Like many parents, Martin said she received an online link from school leaders with bus information. However, their family’s information was incomplete, so she filled out a complaint and was forced to pick up her children.

“I called the school yesterday at two o’clock because the email came out for you to contact the school. And when I contacted the school, they had no more information that my child still had no bus assigned,” said Martin.

10 News spoke with school leaders last month when LCS announced that it would have new start and stop times for the upcoming school year. The changes were made, in part, due to a staffing shortage, according to school officials.

“We need about 20 drivers to run our regular schedule and we don’t have them,” said Steve Gatzke, senior director of LCS Finance & Operations.

One major reason for the shortage? COVID-19.

“We had a number of drivers not return after the pandemic. So, yes, it was aggravating,” Gatzke said on July 6.

After our interview with Martin Thursday morning, she said she finally received her family’s route information but had already made arrangements to pick up her children that afternoon.

“The school has done an amazing job at doing the best they can. It’s not the bus drivers’ fault. It’s not the school’s fault. This truly lies with the leadership in the city schools,” said Martin.

Here’s a statement that was issued by Lynchburg Public Schools:

“We apologize for the ongoing delay in providing accurate transportation information to families. Earlier this week, we discovered that there were issues with information that was uploaded into the transportation software that resulted in some families receiving inaccurate, incomplete, or no bus route information. The transportation software consultants have been working directly with LCS to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. Support staff have been riding the elementary buses in the mornings to ensure that students are picked up and safely delivered to their school. We appreciate those families who were able to transport their children to school and will continue to work with families who are reporting issues with their drop-off/pick-up information. The entire team is working on this and we will communicate updates as they are available. Many families whose students attend their zoned schools can find their bus information by accessing the “find your bus stop” link on our website. We continue to work to resolve students who do not attend their zoned schools such as Pre K, Schools for Innovation, and the Go Center. We are encouraging as many families that can provide transportation for their children to do so until this is resolved. If families need assistance, please contact your building principal. We anticipate that this problem will be resolved within the next 24-48 hours. Thank you for your patience as we work to safely transport all students to and from our schools.”

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.