EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - According to the Contract Bus Drivers Association, there are 59 independently owned buses that makeup about 20 percent of EVSC’s fleet. Contract Bus Drivers Association president Brian Schmitt owns one of those buses, and he says maintenance is the driver’s responsibility.
“The cost of buses has doubled in the past 10 years and for me to replace this bus is $100,000,” said Schmitt.
But without a contract, many of these drivers cannot afford to make the necessary repairs and replacements. Secretary Treasurer Mike Talarzyk says the contract is key.
“That contract is vital for us. That is our employment, that is what we use to go to the bank to get loans, to upgrade equipment,” said Talarzyk.
Both Schmitt and Talarkzyk say that EVSC submitted an unofficial contract proposal back in January, but they have not seen one since. Schmitt says the window of opportunity for upgrades has closed.
“We are just two months away, again, from the start of the school year in the fall and it takes a lot more time than that to get these buses replaced."
EVSC released a statement saying they will be negotiating with several employee groups throughout the summer. They are currently analyzing how the recently adopted state budget will impact their ability to bargain wages and benefits.
Schmitt just hopes they can reach an agreement as soon as possible.
“You know, we want to run good, safe, upgraded equipment. And if something doesn’t happen, there is going to be a whole lot of buses not running this fall.”