DPW hustles to get students to/from school - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DPW hustles to get students to/from school

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - With the new school year underway, it's become apparent that the Department of Public Works has had to hustle in order to get the island's 39,800 students to and from school every day. Last night's informational briefing called by Public Works Committee chairman Senator Tom Ada addressed these bussing concerns.

According to DPW director Joann Brown, her department is doing what it can within its means, operating with a minimal 131 busses and 113 active bus drivers. "With the funding provided and the resources and the additional investment of our personnel we are actually operating at the optimum capability with the resources we have available, and that's a very important thing to point out. If there's a desire for greater capability and capacity, we gotta figure out how to fund that," she expressed.

It was also revealed that DPW would need 179 busses. Brown said, "I don't look at it at all as a perfect world, but as a practical reality in order to meet the demands that are currently there with the number of students we are required to transport everyday we need the additional capacity, which we don't have at the moment."

To compensate for the lack of busses and drivers, a single bus driver can make over four runs per morning and again in the afternoon. According to Brown, this translates to students arriving at school too early and leaving school too late, causing further strain on the department of education who need personnel on campus to monitor students. Passenger busses can only hold 60 students, but drivers are reporting increase in riders.

More bussing problems became apparent with the opening of John F. Kennedy High School this week. "In the entire Government of Guam, we move the most people it's challenging enough to deal with the fact we don't have enough busses," Brown told the committee. "It's challenging enough to deal with we have an aging bus fleet, and by the way we only have six mechanics to address the operational maintenance of 130+ busses."

According to Brown, her fleet is overworked and most operating beyond their lifespan of seven years. The oldest bus is 21 years old and the newest busses is just 6 years old. Bus breakdowns are a daily occurrence and there are no busses on reserve for stranded students, and she said, "In terms of the overall reality we're dealing with some major challenges - we get the complaints everyday we hear them we understand them we want to respond to them."

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