Bus company gears up to haul students to school

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — As the La Crosse School District is getting ready for in person learning next week, families have to start thinking about transportation.
The bus company GO RITEWAY operates busses for both the La Crosse and Onalaska School Districts.

“They’re ready to go back to school, and we’re ready to see them. It’s been a lonely seven, eight, nine months here,” said Amanda Payne.

Amanda Payne is a bus driver for GO RITEWAY.

“I have been working in this industry for 15, almost 16 years,” said Payne.

But this year, the role of a bus driver includes much more than just driving.

“We do disinfect the busses after each route,” said John Lochner, the Senior Operations Manager at GO RITEWAY.

The bussing company hauls students from both La Crosse and Onalaska school districts.

Both districts require new safety precautions within the busses.

“We have the driver isolated in the sense that the seat behind the driver is left open. The driver needs to wear a mask or a shield at all times,” said Lochner.

On top of that, the Onalaska school district has hand sanitizer installed by the steps into the buses.

Getting students back on the bus is something Payne has looked forward to.

“I enjoy the relationships that I’ve made with the kids and the families, so they kind of become your own after a while,” said Payne.

Payne became a bus driver after a family member encouraged her.

“That’s how I ended up with it, but it’s become a lot more than that,” said Payne.

Payne and other bus drivers are taking over the responsibility of social distancing on their busses.

“When we get closer to school starting, we’ll be looking at things like seating assignments as well as the social distancing with one student per seat,” said Lochner.

However with added routes to keep social distancing in busses, there is a shortage in an important aspect of the business..

“We do have enough busses, but we could always use more drivers,” said Lochner.

He says the door isn’t closed on hiring.

“Its become, friendships, and new family, and its become my life,” said Payne.

Lochner says bussing makes an impact, because 85 percent of parent’s only contact with school officials is through the bus driver.

To get a job at GO RITEWAY, you can apply online.