School Bus Changes Annoy Students

Students prefer buses this year much more to last year, but recent changes to the bus schedule have annoyed them.

Last year, many of the school buses were cramped and had long routes. “There were like two free spaces on the bus,” sophomore Michael Havener said. “If I stayed until I was supposed to get off, the bus ride would be like 45 minutes.”

But problems aren’t only on the bus schedule themselves. Last year, LCPS used the bus tracking app, Here Comes the Bus, but this year the school changed the app to Stopfinder. Stopfinder doesn’t work at all for most students. “I’ve tried that app it is not usable,” Havener said. “If I look at it right now; it tells me the bus information is not available.” The county is aware of the problem and working on fixing it. In an email, Director of transportation Kenneth (Scott) Davies said, “We are working with the vendor to improve the performance of the Stopfinder app.”

The app is listed as having a rating of 1.4 stars on the Apple app store, with most reviews following the trend of it being completely useless. “It can never ‘find’ the kids buses so I never know where the bus is,” Leilanimr Bean, a reviewer on the Apple app store, wrote.

And the problems with the app extend further than usability. The information on the Loudoun County website still reported the app in use to be Here Comes the Bus until October of this year. The school webpage also claims the app allows parents to , “Know where your child’s bus is and have the most accurate information about your child’s bus schedule in the palm of your hand.”

Many students were left wondering why they switched from Here Comes the Bus to Stopfinder. “Here Comes the Bus was much better,” Havener said, “it actually functioned as it should have and it was a lot more convenient.” Here Comes the Bus was a product of the county’s former IT provider, Synovia. Due to outdated equipment the county decided to switch over to a different provider. “Last year we awarded a contract for a new tablet and software provider that would meet current standards,” Davies said. Due to this the county could no longer use Here Comes the Bus and needed to look for a different app.

Recently students have gotten annoyed at the buses for a different issue. At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, students were satisfied with the bus schedules. “The bus was extremely good. I got home at like 4:45, which is reasonable,” sophomore Cole Strickland said. Sophomore Austin Leonard rated this school year’s bus before the change, “I’d say probably a 7 out of 10. Pretty good for an easy way to get to school.”

Throughout the year, parents receive notifications to check for changes to their students’ bus schedules. After a recent change to the bus schedule, the same annoyance students reported feeling last school year has returned. “I used to take the bus. I’m currently waiting for my mom, to get picked up,” Strickland said. Strickland took the bus until recently when the changes greatly increased his bus ride time.

“It’s pretty trash,” sophomore Ian Meyers said when commenting on the changed bus, “I have to sit here until the bus comes. It takes a long time.”

According to Davies, the county assigns all students a bus at the beginning of the year. Because many students don’t ride the bus after about 30 school days the bus schedules are changed to utilize their limited resources. At the beginning of this year the school had a shortage of about 50 drivers, which dropped to around 20 after the recent changes. “Our shortage has a direct impact on our ability to provide on-time service as well as support athletic and field trips throughout the county,” Davies said.

But buses are lacking for most students. Havener summed up students’ experiences, “Half the time it’s delayed, there are too many kids, not enough seats, it’s just an unpleasant experience.”