LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - There may be a shortage of them during the summer, but buses are about to be back on the road in full force. We're just about a week away from the state's largest school district starting class. That means there will be nearly a thousand more buses out there, and JCPS wants you to be on the lookout.
WHAS11 got to ride along with a driver with nearly 30 years of experience. Cindy Guldenschuh started out driving a tractor trailer with her husband. She applied for a job with JCPS when they wanted to start a family, and the rest is history.
“I retired in 2014. I had 25 years in, and then I came back. I timed it just right because I was off during the winter months, and I came back after spring break,” Guldenschuh said.
She’s lived through plenty of first days of school and knows what it takes to be ready for the yearly occasion.
"Lay your clothes out the night before just because you can't run late,” Guldenschuh said. “I know the night before nobody can sleep because you’re worried about whether or not your alarm is going to go off on time.”
Just like her bus, Guldenschuh makes sure she's set, too. She's got the daily greeting down and the routine rehearsed.
"As we're approaching the bus stop, we're scanning our mirrors just to make sure we don't have any running students trying to catch the bus. They are to be at the bus stop five minutes before the bus arrives each morning,” Guldenschuh said. “We always said that you’ve got to keep eyes on the back of your head and keep your eyes moving because mirrors really tell everything about anything on your route. They can really help you out.”
She’s got advice for students.
"Know what your bus number is. Know what your driver looks like,” Guldenschuh said.
She’s got advice for parents.
"Come to the bus stop and talk with the driver. Let the driver know that you're there,” Guldenschuh said. "You might have them in there in the morning and follow the bus to school. That's perfectly fine."
She’s also got advice for all the rest of us sharing the streets.
“Just be on the lookout for anything around the bus and all of your danger zones around the bus,” Guldenschuh said.
Bus drivers are required to stop 30 feet before an intersection. They start their warning lights about 150 feet before each stop. That gives you plenty of time to stop, too, which is something that has to happen whenever you see those lights and stop arm.
The laws differ a little between Indiana and Kentucky. Both require drivers to stop if they are traveling in the same direction of the bus, regardless of how many lanes there are between the bus and the other vehicle.
In Indiana, drivers are typically required to stop on multiple lane highways even if they are going the opposite direction. If that highway is divided by a barrier or grass median, drivers are only required to stop if they are traveling in the same direction as the bus.
In Kentucky, drivers are typically required to stop on multiple lane highways even if they are going the opposite direction. If that highway is four or more lanes, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction don’t have to stop.
These are all rules Guldenschuh knows by heart after nearly three decades of miles and even more memories in the driver's seat.
"I love to see the children when they get on the bus and their expressions of what they did during the day at school. I always ask them how their day went,” Guldenschuh said. “We try to practice so much of keeping kids in school and keeping them motivated to learn, learn, learn.”
It's certainly not an easy job, but it's one this dedicated driver knows makes a daily difference.
"Best thing to do is just to make sure we get all of our students picked up safely, get them to school safely, and get them home safely,” Guldenschuh said.
JCPS is looking for more drivers. Director of Transportation Randy Frantz encourages anyone who is interested to apply online or give his office a call. The position pays $16.70 an hour plus benefits.
“We have 900 drivers, and I’m going to call them community heroes because I truly believe that’s what they are,” Frantz said. “There’s nothing more important than the safety of the 70,000 kids that we move each morning and each afternoon.”
Link to application: