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EBR school board president seeing transportation problems firsthand during ride-alongs

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BATON ROUGE - Just days after the school bus driver strike, the East Baton Rouge school board is set to hold a special meeting Thursday night to address the concerns of the transportation department. 

Ahead of the meeting, however, school board president Dadrius Lanus has been riding the buses with the students this week. His goal is to get a firsthand experience of what the kids and bus drivers go through.

"For so long, we've been getting information from the higher-ups," he said. "And I think some of the best people to see where this problem lies are talking to the people who are on the ground, the people who have to go through this every day. Our bus drivers, our mechanics. Talking to them gives us a different scope of understanding of what their needs are. And I can tell you just from my two days riding on the bus, there are immediate concerns and needs that I've seen for myself."

Some of the problems are a shortage of buses, a shortage of drivers, and no air conditioning on more than 50% of the fleet.

"We need about 500 bus drivers, we don't have that right now," Lanus continued. "We have about 375 to 400 available buses, but all of those buses are not in operable condition to be on the road and that's the problem. In the bus graveyard, you have about 75 different buses sitting there waiting to go out to auction because there's nothing else that we can do with them. Then you have about 50 buses that have available A/C on them right now."

However, it's going to take a lot of planning from the board and working with the department to figure out what to do next.

"What we're trying to do from the board's end is if there is a bus with no A/C, we want to get it retrofitted to get A/C on it immediately," he said of the board's plans. "It's the reason why we're calling a special meeting. If there is equipment or technology that's needed inside of our mechanic shop to get the fleet back on the ground at more of a rapid pace that's what we want to be able to do."

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