Columbia County bus drivers prepare to transport nearly 17,000 students

Columbia County bus drivers prepare to transport nearly 17,000 students

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Kids and teachers aren't the only ones going back to school - bus drivers are, too! Here in the CSRA, they are training for their routes - Columbia County has more than 200.

FOX 54 News Now reporter Jasmine Anderson took a ride along with one of the many drivers preparing to pick up kids.

"Oddly enough, one of the things I wanted to be when I was a little kid was a bus driver," said Columbia County School District Transportation Department Driver Trainer Charles Donaldson. 

According to the school district, 17,000 kids are getting ready to ride the school buses to schools in Columbia County. Donaldson trains the drivers that pick them up. He said they train all year long. On his bus, he wears many hats - from a listening ear to a rule enforcer.  

"Don't run onto the bus or run on the bus. On a wet day those steps can be slippery...stay seated while you're on the bus," he explained. 

The retired Marine has been with the Columbia County School District for six years - and is a stickler for safety. More than 60 children can fit on his "cheese wagon". Tuesday, we took Bus #1406 for a spin. It lets him know if he needs to modify his route.

"Every car, every entrance I'm looking and scanning it before I get there," Donaldson said. 

Shirley Doolittle, the district's Assistant Director of transportation, said now is the time for parents to talk to their kids about punctuality and safety at the bus stop.

Even if you're not a parent, the bus commute could impact you. That's because they won't exceed 40 miles an hour and you can expect them to stop frequently.

"You might want to adjust your schedules, getting to work, getting to places you need to go. Routes can start as early as 5 in the morning, 6 o'clock and back out again around 2 p.m.," said Shirley Doolittle, Columbia County School District Assistant Director of Transportation.

Parents can track their child's bus because each one is equipped with a GPS. That also helps drivers if they get lost. 

The school district is holding an open house this week and next week. Parents and students will be able to talk to bus drivers and tour the buses. CLICK  HERE you need more information on your child's transportation. 

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