Among other items, the Plymouth School Board heard a report from Transportation Director, Brandon Berger, during the regular monthly meeting on December 3. Berger has been with the transportation department for three years as the assistant director and was named director six months ago.
Berger said that when the school year started, they had a driver shortage and began with 24 routes. He indicated that they were able to hire an additional driver and now offer 25 routes and transport over 1200 students in the mornings. He said they are in the process of interviewing potential drivers to replace the current special needs bus driver who is retiring at the end of the year.
In keeping with new laws included in State Senate Bill 2, black reflective tape has been added to all buses. Berger said they haven’t been given the exact locations on the buses that will be mandated, but they will comply as instructed. Additionally, all pickups and drop-offs on U.S. or State highways are on the right-hand side.
Berger showed pictures and a video of drivers who have violated the stop arms laws. According to Berger, there were documented 15 violations in August, 30 in September, 21 in October, 14 in November, and 4 already in December. He said they are working with the Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office on the matter. He said drivers observing violations are to report them to the transportation office who then contacts 911 and the county dispatcher. Dispatch then sends officers to the area. Drivers are asked to provide a written statement to the Prosecutor’s office as well.
Berger said they also have ongoing patrols in areas of high- risk violations. Seven buses have stop arm cameras installed and plans are to add cameras to every bus as funds become available. According to Berger, outfitting a bus with the stop arm camera is a cost of $3,500. In the future, any new buses purchased will have installed cameras upon delivery.
Bus drivers now have technology in the form of a tablet that has GPS capabilities, shows turn by turn directions for substitute drivers and also allows the transportation staff to track bus locations. The same device is used for each driver to record their driving times for payroll use. Drivers can report any mechanical problems via the tablet to Wiers for repairs. Wiers is on contract with PCSC for bus upkeep.
Berger said they are working towards installing a program to issue student ID tags.
Carol Anders Correspondent