Atlanta Public Schools superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, puts it bluntly when talking about school bus break downs: “You cannot teach (the children) if they are not there.”
A recent FOX 5 I-Team investigation found, on average, nearly 3 APS school buses are towed in for repairs every school day. We also found nearly one out of every four APS buses are in the shop, waiting weeks for repairs.
Following our report, the Georgia State Patrol conducted its regularly scheduled yearly inspection and found 107 buses had bad enough problems - brakes, suspension, leaks, and airbag issues - to be taken off the road. That is nearly 28 percent of the entire fleet.
Carstarphen, again didn't mince words: “Given my experience, in other districts, that is higher than anything I've seen.
Superintendent Carstarphen says her mechanics worked diligently to get most of those buses back on the road. She says now, only 30 or so are out of commission.
She says the break downs can be traced to an aging bus system, not enough mechanics, and growing Atlanta traffic.
“Band-aiding or bubble-gumming the fix does make other people, especially parents, unbelievably frustrated,” says Carstarphen.
She says the school system is counting on the upcoming Educational SPLOST vote that would increase taxes by one penny. If it passes, that could put an additional 16 million dollars in Atlanta public school coffers just for new buses and more, highly trained mechanics.
Carstarphen hopes that money could eventually fix the long standing frustration of parents and kids alike.
“I can see light at end of tunnel,” says Carstarphen, I don't believe it’s a train; I believe in this case, it is a light we want to go into.”