Albany - The fence at Dougherty County's school bus yard is being reinforced in the wake of that extensive bus vandalism. A group of children took joyrides on Dougherty County school buses. Several of them were extensively damaged. Other changes are being made too. Keys will no longer be left on the buses.
The damage hasn't even been tallied, but it's a lot. When three children commandeered buses, they ended up damaging more than 20, totaling three. How did they get the keys? They were left in the buses.
"Some of them start out at 6:15, 6:10, before the shop opens so they hide the keys on the bus," said Transportation director Willie Griffin. He says the garage didn't open that early, so the drivers would not have been able to get inside the shop to pick up their keys. That's all changed now. "Now we are installing a key box," said Griffin, "and they got to bring them in and hang them on the box everyday."
That's the new policy. The old policy obviously wasn't secure. "Basically the policy was don't leave your keys in the bus in the ignition," said Griffin.
The drivers who left their keys on the bus will not be disciplined. Griffin says the destruction was not their fault, but the work of criminals, however young they may be. "We was in a locked compound," he said. "They broke into our establishment. Went on the buses found the keys and drove them. They violated the law for going in there anyway."
And along with keys being locked in, Griffin says the bus yard will be locked up even tighter. In addition to the barbed wire that's already in place, razor wire will be added to the fencing to hopefully deter anyone else from breaking in. And breaking the buses, which are expensive. A new bus costs about $70,000 bucks. "We're doing everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen again."
And that these buses will remain in tact for kids to ride in, not for bumper buses.
Although the amount of damage is still be totaled, the school system will be responsible for at least a $10,000 deductible, which will come out of the general fund.