JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County School Board made a decision on Tuesday that could affect your child’s transportation to school. They’ve made a change with DCPS’ largest bus company in the district.
The vote was unanimous. All board members decided to end one of its contracts with the Student Transportation of America (STA). This began after Action News Jax investigation uncovered several problems with STA.
From crowded buses to late pick ups and drop offs -- the investigative team uncovered concerns parents had.
“I just need someone to take full accountability of the issue, because something has to be done,” Shinika Hunt, a mother of a student who takes the bus had told our investigative team in December last year.
One parent at Tuesday’s meeting brought up issues he still has at his children’s school -- waiting long hours for his son to get home.
“Sometimes he has his bus that’s supposed to show up at 4:30. I’ll be there at six o’clock at night,” concerned parent Brian Covey said.
Several parents turned to alternatives to get their kids to school. JTA’s My Ride to School program saw a major increase in student ridership. 24,000 students rode the bus in September compared to 36,000 students last month, which is about a 50-percent increase. JTA says last month had the highest ridership numbers since the program began.
STA transports about 75 percent of the students in Duval County, but now, that will change.
DCPS is hoping to fix the problem. School Board member Darryl Willie had originally put this item on the agenda.
“We got a lot of emails and I really wanted the public to see our due diligence moving forward,” Willie said.
Tuesday’s unanimous vote solidifies the transfer of two zones STA had to Durham School Services. That means 220 bus routes in the Arlington and Mayport area will now be serviced by Durham, impacting thousands of students. Durham will add about 10 additional bus routes when they take over that area.
“I think that the district needs to reevaluate the routes before they start looking at different vendors, because the vendors are dropping the ball at some point where I can’t tell where I can’t tell where my kid is when he’s coming home,” Covey said.
These changes voted on today won’t take effect until next school year.
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STA did not protest this contract transfer when it was put up for vote.