Huntsville City schools rolls out new school bus company

HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Last year parents were upset over their students not getting to schools in Huntsville on time when they took the bus. The district decided not to renew their contract with the company Durham School Services.

The company AppleBus is taking over student transit services.

As the wheels on the bus are about to go round and round the district is rolling out a new school bus company, AppleBus.

"We're excited about the new company and the new changes," district communication director Keith Ward said.

The fleet of 180 buses includes 160 brand new vehicles.
They're tricked out with features like security cameras inside the bus and Wi-Fi, but what might be the best part?

"All of them are equipped with air conditioning," Ward said.

While last school year and issues with the school buses may be in the rearview mirror, school officials will continue to focus on ensuring students are on time and accounted for.

Last year not having enough employees led to buses being late. This year they have a solution for that.

"We put a minimum of $20 an hour and we think that would help not only with recruitment but, with retention of bus drivers," Ward said.

The fleet has hired a driver for each bus and "We will have 20 extra drivers that will be on standby in the event of a driver is sick or call out," AppleBus local general manager James Akins said.

Apple Bus is also creating shorter routes

"Which will give the students a shorter bus ride in the morning," Akin said.

The company also uses the Safe Stop app which will allow parents to track their students' routes.

"It will show your students stops in real-time. It will also push out alerts if your bus is running late," AppleBus director of operations Stephanie Shaw said.

Giving parents access to their students' whereabouts right at their fingertips.

The school district will also have interactive bus routes parents can check in real-time posted on their website. Those routes will be listed on July 23rd.

The AppleBus contract is for $11,012,620.80.  They were the lowest bidder.  Three vendors submitted bids.  The contract was voted on during the April 19th, 2018 school board meeting.