Roy L. Williams
Darrell Skipper, transporation consultant for Hoover City Schools
A Birmingham-based traffic consultant told members of the Hoover Board of Education that if the school system had proceeded with its now-dropped plan to halt bus transportation for students, it would have made traffic congestion to and from the city’s schools even worse.
Darrell Skipper of Skipper Consulting said he did his study at the request of Interim Superintendent Jim Reese “in case this issue ever came up again.” The Hoover school board, in a controversial July 2013 decision, had voted to end bus service for most students to cut costs. After a public outcry from many Hoover parents, plus inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Hoover school board in December 2013 rescinded that decision to end bus service.
The report by Skipper, whose company conducts traffic studies for schools, governments and private clients across Alabama, pointed out how big an impact cutting busing would have had on those who deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic surrounding the schools on mornings and afternoons.
“If you eliminate a bus, it takes 24 cars to replace it,” Skipper said. “That equals about 600 feet of traffic, or two football fields. That means it would take 50 percent more time to exit school campuses per day.”
Of Hoover’s 16 schools, Skipper said 12 of them use five or more buses a day to transport students to and from schools. The other four use four or less buses, he said. Of Hoover’s 14,000 students, about 45 percent – 6,500 students – are taken to and from school via buses, Skipper said.
After Skipper’s report, Hoover school board attorney Donald Sweeney said the public shouldn’t read too much into the study, adding there are no current plans to revisit eliminating busing for Hoover students.
Reese, the Hoover interim superintendent, the cost of bus transportation is one of the biggest issues school systems face across the state, not just in Hoover.
“Another problem is finding bus drivers, especially those that have a CDC license,” he said.