RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Parents have become outraged during the first few weeks of the school year over what they called ‘extremely unsafe conditions’ on Richmond school buses.
When Destiny Mickens picks up her two small children from the bus stop every day, she says she cannot believe her eyes.
“I see chaos- kids all over the place, kids over seats, kids standing, playing,” Mickens explained.
She and other parents said they have had it with overcrowded buses.
“They’re sitting four or five kids to a seat,” Mickens told 8 News.
An elementary school bus can typically hold up to 77 students at a time. Three students can safely fit in one seat.
“There’s no room on there to breathe or move around,” said Mickens, who worries about what could happen if the driver has to hit the brakes.
“The bus is moving and they could be thrown out the window.”
Mickens said she contacted Richmond Public Schools transportation department repeatedly, only to get the runaround.
“I’d say a good 10 to 15 times and they keep taking my information and saying the same thing,” Mickens said. “I don’t understand that and nobody’s given me answers.”
Assistant Superintendent Tommy Kranz said he had only received one report of bus overcrowding.
“In this particular case, I’ve heard on at least one occasion (capacity) may have been over by one or two students,” said Kranz.
According to officials, the UCI Bike Race complicated bus routes after school started.
“My apologies to the parents where we may have unknowingly put a child in a situation everyone feels uncomfortable with,” Kranz said.
After 8 News looked into the matter on October 7, Kranz said Richmond Public Schools had added a second bus run to the route.
“We’ve remedied it, and if we become aware of anything in the future we’ll take immediate corrective action.”
The double-run will pick up half the students, drop them off at their bus stops, then return to the school for a second pickup and drop-off.
For Mickens and other parents, it’s at least a start in the right direction.