LAURINBURG — As redistricting has some students attending school farther from their homes than last year, the Scotland County Schools transportation department designed new bus routes so that students will spend less time riding a school bus.
According to transportation director Roger Ammons, students will be collected along just over 100 bus routes in the morning and then transported home along a similar number in the afternoon, totaling about 210 routes.
“Some buses run more than one route,” Ammons said. “They’ll run an elementary route and then a high school route behind the elementary.”
While some of the county bus routes have stretched as long as 90 minutes — keeping children on a bus for a total of three hours a day — this year’s route lengths will average around 45 minutes.
The longest routes, an hour in length according to Ammons, are those travelled by specially-staffed exceptional children’s buses, which traverse the entire county.
The abbreviated ride times have been achieved partly through the implementation of localized stops along the routes. Instead of stopping at each child’s home, buses will collect groups of children at “corner stops.”
Ammons said that parents will be notified of their children’s assigned bus and the address of their bus stop by next week. The first day of school is Aug. 24.
The schools’ transportation staff looked for safe, well-lit areas to designate as student gathering places.
“It depends on the neighborhood and the street and what we look for is the safest place to stop the bus so that all the children can meet at that one place,” Ammons said.
Bus routes will vary from 15 to 30 stops, with corner stops utilized primarily in densely-populated residential areas.
“Most of the corner stops are city stops and the more urban areas — in the rural areas if you have two families that live within a block of each other, we’ll probably stop once in the middle,” said Ammons.
In addition to getting students to their destinations more quickly, the goal of the new routes and corner stops is for the school system’s bus fleet to spend 10 percent less time on the road — reducing wear on the buses and saving in fuel costs.
“A bus may take the same route, but if it makes five less stops it’s going to be less ride time, and that’s what our goal is,” said Ammons. “The first week or so we may have to tweak it along the way, but we certainly feel that our routes are in better shape now for the first day of school than we’ve had in several years.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.