School Buses

A picture of a school bus in the snow.
schoolbusdriver.org

Winter weather prompted many schools to close across central North Carolina today. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools made that call later than others. 

Classes at Chapel Hill-Carrboro high schools were canceled today, but not before elementary and middle school students got to their desks.

A picture of children getting off a school bus.
woodley wonderworks / Flickr

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is on the lookout for motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus. The week-long enforcement campaign is called Operation Stop Arm.

Lieutenant Jeff Gordon says the initiative is part of National School Bus Safety week, but that it's especially appropriate considering recent accidents involving school children.

In the past month, four children have been hit by cars at their bus stops in Wilson and Wake Counties. One of those children died.

School bus
Dave DeWitt

Law enforcement will soon have a new tool to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses. School districts are in the process of installing more external cameras that are activated when the bus stops. The cameras capture images of license plates and motorists that pass the buses while they are stopped.

School officials say the new cameras will help keep more kids safe.

school bus maintenance
Dave DeWitt

Local school districts in North Carolina will have less state funding for school buses this year. The General Assembly cut $4.6 million from the budget for school transportation.

The cut comes one year after the Legislature upped the number of miles a school bus could stay on the roads.

"We do have a bit of an older fleet out there, not dramatically, but it is an older fleet now," says Derek Graham, the director of transportation services at the Department of Public Instruction. 

School bus
Dave DeWitt

 State lawmakers are considering a bill that would reduce funds for school buses over the next five years. 

The House bill would limit the number of spare buses and their replacement parts, while revising the state inspection process for school bus maintenance.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie, Forsyth), says the legislation would make school bus operations more efficient, while saving about $19 million in recurring funds over the years.

school bus maintenance
Dave DeWitt

Consider the school bus. It’s big and yellow, a loud diesel engine spewing black smoke into the air. Lots of old gum under the seats. Maybe a surly but lovable driver. And plenty of spirited kids climbing on at the end of another long school day.