AUSTIN, Texas — Thanks to a new fleet of school buses, Pflugerville Independent School District parents can breathe a sigh of relief. This comes after some complained to the district last school year that the buses were overcrowded.
Tamra Spence, a spokesperson for Pflugerville ISD, said over the past few months the district bought more than 150 buses, which is an entire fleet. The district used the nearly $15 million they got from the city's November bond package to buy them. This is the first time Pflugerville ISD has operated its own buses in at least two decades.
Just in 2018, parents complained there weren't enough buses. A parent sent us photos of her son's ride home from school back in April. It shows students sitting three to a seat and some even sitting on the floor.
At the time, Pflugerville ISD had a contractor, Durham School Services. In that case, the district said what happened with those buses was out of their control.
“It was Durham School Services and they managed our routes and the employees. The bus drivers were all their employees, so they acted like any other contractor,” said Spence. “We told them what we expected and what was in our contracts, but they were the ones who implemented that. With that system, we were unable to really get that customer service that we want to stress here in Pflugerville ISD.”
Durham did send a letter parents at the time, saying they were experiencing an "unprecedented driver shortage" and had to combine many routes.
The district said it has improved that by adding 30 more bus drivers this year. With owning and operating their own fleet of buses now, the district has already seen a difference.
“So far, we've got positive feedback,” said Spence. “There's always a few learning curves along the way and starting the school year, but I spoke with our transportation department and we are now at a 99% on-time rate for all of our campuses, getting our kids to school on-time so things are going really well so far.”
As a way to get the drivers they need, the district said it's one of the top leaders in the area for bus driver pay. They're paying drivers more than $20 an hour.
“We are going strong,” said Spence. “I believe we are still looking at hiring bus drivers because there is always some turnover and so anyone who is interested in applying I encourage you to contact our transportation department.”
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