LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The first day of a new school year can be an exciting time, but on Wednesday, the excitement quickly soured.
In a statement, a Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) spokesperson said the last bus riders were dropped off at 9:58 p.m. Wednesday evening. Superintendent Marty Pollio issued a late-night email apology to parents.
"While JCPS always experiences delays in transportation during the first several days of school, what happened today is unacceptable," he said. "We acknowledge that the delays and frustrations felt by families were worse than in years past as bus drivers, families, students and school staff all worked to navigate a brand new transportation plan."
Pollio said the district will be working to make adjustments but also acknowledged some or most of Wednesday's problems will not be fixed by Thursday.
"Please continue to show our bus drivers some grace and understanding," he said.
The troubles started in the morning when students were waiting for buses much longer than expected.
This year, Kentucky's largest school district changed start times and bus routes for schools across the district.
The intersection of Fern Valley Road and Clear Water Farms Boulevard is listed as a bus stop for Jessica Sibbie's son.
According to the JCPS Bus Finder, his school bus was supposed to arrive at 7:04 a.m. on Wednesday, but that didn't happen. WHAS11 watched as several buses carrying fellow students drove by, but not one stopped.
"In the past, it's always been more communication as far as where the bus stop is gonna be," Sibbie said.
Her son goes to Jefferson County Traditional Middle School, where they wear uniforms. Sibbie, her son, and our crews watched a bus full of kids with uniforms drive by around 7:10 a.m.
Sibbie was convinced that the bus was her son's, and it stopped one street down, not where Bus Finder told them to go.
"That's his friend waving at him," Sibbie said as the bus drove by.
The family eventually gave up waiting, and Sibbie drove her son to school.
Giannara Hernandez, a student at Marion C. Moore School, was told this intersection would also be her bus stop. It's the same bus stop location she had last year, but she says it's often had issues.
She was supposed to be picked up at 6:45 a.m. -- her school's new start time was 7:40 a.m. -- but about an hour later, there was still no bus and she was now late to class.
"I don't know, I'm probably -- I mean my mom works, she can't take me right now. She just went to her job," Hernandez said.
Meanwhile, at Seneca High School, Pam Lott sacrificed being late to work to ensure her student made it to school on time.
"I have to be at work at eight. The earliest I can drop her off is 8 a.m., but Seneca is about a 30-minute drive from my work without traffic," she said.
Just a few days ago the district's bus finder app said a bus stop location was an 18-minute drive away, according to Lott. But as of Wednesday morning, there's no stop at all.
"The delays in buses were mostly caused by traffic, we had some significant traffic issues," JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said during a noon press conference. He added the district always faces bus problems on the first day of school.
But many frustrated parents are hoping things begin to improve soon.
"I know JCPS is trying, and they're doing the best they can, and hiccups are expected," Lott said. "But this year, it just seems there are thousands of bus stops still missing."
According to JCPS officials, over 4,800 bus stop requests were submitted between July 24 and July 31. Some parents told WHAS11 that they were told not to expect a response until Labor Day, which is September 4.