LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Without school buses, kids across the country wouldn’t have a way to get to and from school.
In Clark County, about 115,000 students ride the bus every day during the school year, but parents and kids said those buses are not reliable.
They said the buses are constantly late, anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes, several times each week.
One high school student said he had been marked late more than 100 times and about half of those are because the bus never showed up at all.
For two months, FOX5 followed two families: one with a student in high school, and the other in first grade.
They’re on two different bus routes at two different schools but have the same problems.
"The buses just aren't showing up,” Cheyenne Thomason said.
She said she takes care of her brother Jacob. He’s a junior at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas.
"I wake up in the morning and I'm like, ‘Hey, I don't think my bus is going to show up,'” said Jacob.
Every morning when he walks to the bus stop near Lake Mead Boulevard and D Street, he said he’s usually right.
"If anybody's home, he'll call us and be like, 'My bus didn't show up,'” said Cheyenne.
That leaves his big sister to go pick him up and take him to school, or find him a ride.
"It puts stress on everybody,” said Jacob.
If Cheyenne can’t find a ride she said he'll miss the day completely.
Jacob is late a lot. His first class is chemistry, one of his hardest classes.
"It’s one of the credits that I need to pass and being that I’m missing that class it makes it extremely hard to retain any information,” he said.
Jacob said he’s now failing.
"He's been struggling a lot lately,” said Cheyenne.
Cheyenne called the Clark County Transportation Department.
"I was on hold for over two hours and that was frustrating … called back a couple days later and same thing."
That was early in the school year. In January, it was a new year, with the same problems.
The bus is scheduled to pick up Jacob and other students at his bus stop around 6:20 a.m.
"It’s not like I'm not going to school or trying to go to school, it’s just that the bus doesn't show up and I don’t really have another way to school … walking will take another hour and it’s just another hour I won’t be in school,” said Jacob.
On Jan. 25 at the bus stop, some of the kids had blankets on to keep them warm while they waited.
At 7:02 a.m., just a few minutes before school started, there was still no sign of the bus.
"The bus do come, it just come when it want to come,” said Canyon Springs High freshman Amarion Blackwell.
Blackwell said he feels like he’s missing a lot of school.
The students said they eventually took matters into their own hands.
"Right now, we're on hold with the bus company. Been on hold for 13 minutes now,” said one student.
They do this every day.
"It's very stressful. I've gone nights without sleeping," said Canyon Springs High sophomore Deja.
She said she also misses first period multiple times a week.
"If we say that we're a student and that we're waiting for the bus company they don't listen to us. So, we have to act like we're our parents and say, 'My daughter's waiting for the bus, my son's waiting for the bus,' and maybe they can speed up the process,” said Deja.
She was on hold for about 15 minutes before someone answered.
"I would like to know to why my daughters bus is not here,” Deja said to the woman on the phone.
The woman on the other end told her she needed to radio the driver. After being on hold for several more minutes, she said the driver was five minutes away.
"Why is our bus always the one that’s late?” Deja asked the transportation company.
The woman on the phone said it was because that driver called out sick. She did not have an answer for all the other days.
The bus showed up an hour late.
Then, FOX5 caught the driver running a red light on its way to the bus stop.
Jacob, Deja and their classmates got there 25 minutes after the first bell.
Twenty miles away in Henderson, Vandenburg Elementary students wait for the bus off Horizon Ridge Parkway near Stephanie Street.
This school bus showed up on time.
Desiree Acedo said that day was the exception, not the rule.
A few days after that, Acedo took a cell phone video at 8:49 a.m. The bus is supposed to pick up her 7-year-old son Mateo at 8:30 a.m.
She said the bus company will sometimes send texts and emails letting her know the bus is late.
Acedo said it’s not just on the way to school.
"They were picked up late from school and again nobody knew anything. So, the parents are again forced to call our kids to say, 'Hey, are you guys on the bus? Are you on your way home?' … These are children."
Acedo got Mateo a smartwatch so she can call him to find out where he is. When asked if she feels like her child is safe going to and from school, she said no.
Instead of an on-camera interview, Clark County School District sent this statement in an email:
The concerns have been brought to the attention of the transportation department staff who are working to remedy the situation while dealing with a shortage of approximately 106 bus drivers.
"You can't find the funding to pay your bus drivers so they want to stay on the job? Where are you falling short?" asked Desiree.
CCSD said a bus driver will start out at $15.30 an hour which is just under $30,000 a year.
It doesn’t answer Acedo’s question, “Why aren’t they staying?”
CCSD said because of the bus driver shortage they are pulling transportation office staff who “have the proper license” to fill some spots.
Last year, there were 3,324 complaints against the transportation department and even more the year before.
By law, CCSD does not have to provide transportation for any students.
The Nevada statute currently states: “The Board of Trustees of any school districts may furnish transportation for all resident children of school age in the school district attending a public school.”
The keyword there is may – not must.
When asked if CCSD would cut the school bus system, they said no. They just wanted to point out how other districts around the country don’t offer transportation services, with the exception of special needs students.