Ice Routes Not The Safest Alternative For Oklahoma School Busses

Tuesday, March 4th 2014, 6:00 pm
By: News On 6

As Green Country starts to thaw out, some parents are asking what it will take for districts to utilize bus snow and ice routes. Many of the Tulsa-metro districts say it is too dangerous for buses to drive in neighborhoods, and sometimes ice routes are not safer.

It may be a snow day for students, but Union Public Schools' transportation department does not get to take it easy. With empty seats on the bus, workers are still busy starting up all engines, making sure they will be ready for the next day of class.

"There are a lot of people who probably question us when we have to call off school, especially on a day like today. Trust me, we would love to have school more than anyone," said Union Superintendent, Dr. Kirt Hartzler.

Many districts across Green Country had to cancel class because it's too dangerous for buses to drive on neighborhood roads. Some parents notice the main thoroughfares are clear, so they don't understand why districts can't activate bus ice routes.

"I just don't understand why they have to cancel the whole school day again. Then they have to make up more time later. It's going to be harder to do," said parent, Melissa Weiss.

Hartzler said, "When you have the amount of ice and snow that we received on Sunday, even the ice routes are not safe for us to use."

Nearly 75 percent of Union's students rely on the bus. The superintendent said they only have ice routes for hilly neighborhoods, and since the flat neighborhoods are still iced over, buses couldn't run.

"The one thing that we'd never want is a 10 to 12 ton school bus sliding into a group of children," Hartzler said.

Tulsa Public Schools do have alternate routes, but the pick-up and drop-off locations for students remain the same, meaning buses will still have to drive on icy conditions in neighborhoods. Jenks said its ice routes are not always on main thoroughfares because of heavy traffic, and Broken Arrow Public Schools does not have bus ice routes.

A spokesperson said, alternate routes have been a bigger burden on parents who weren't able to get their kids to the stop.

Union said it also has to think about its employees during this winter weather. They say they don't have enough manpower to plow every school parking lot and sand every sidewalk, which is another reason school sometimes has to be canceled.