CAMBRIDGE — Parents of students attending Mace’s Lane Middle School were surprised to learn that the bus transporting their children from the Greenwood Avenue area in Cambridge would no longer be taking them to and from school. According to Bill Fleming, Transportation Manager with Dorchester County Public Schools, there is a non-transport zone in effect for 1.5 miles for Cambridge South Dorchester and Mace’s Lane Middle students. Greenwood Avenue is in that zone.
The school system learned last week that a bus driver had been picking up students routinely from that area, even though it wasn’t a designated stop, said Fleming. When the transportation office was informed the bus that holds 52 or 53 students safely was transporting an average of 80 students, Fleming said they discovered the extra pickups. The school said a letter was sent to parents notifying them that those students would no longer be picked up or returned home by bus.
The transportation office is looking into an alternative solution, as parents have expressed concerns for the safety of their students who will now be walking to the school. Colder temperatures and safety concerns were among those listed by guardians.
Fleming said they are working with one parent group to get a number on how many students from that area are affected, but said for decades the responsibility has been for parents or guardians to supply transportation in that 1.5 mile area surrounding the school.
Overall, the county is facing a shortage of bus drivers, Fleming said. To add another bus would be one possible solution, but at present there is a lack of adequate staffing for event the current routes, he said. The lack stems not from a budget issue, but rather a shortage of staffing with their current contractors. It is a nationwide shortage, he said. Qualified drivers who are interested in driving for a contractor of DCPS can reach the transportation office at 410-221-2008.