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Interim superintendent on speeding buses report: ‘I want to be at zero’

RICHMOND, Va. -- While Sherrie Hicks works styling hair, her daughter rides the bus to and from Armstrong High School.

"When I think it’s time for her to get off the bus, I call her to see where she is at so I know she is off that bus...every day," Hicks said.

Hicks said she trusts her daughter's bus drivers, but she still worries.

A CBS 6 investigation back in October found that Richmond school bus drivers had been caught speeding hundreds of times over just a few months, going 10, 15, even more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

"Anything could happen, it could be my child, your child, anything," Hicks said.

We uncovered the information through a public records request for speeding data collected by the GPS units on the buses, and we immediately asked Tommy Kranz, the then-Chief Operating Officer for Richmond Public Schools, about it.

At the time, he said he had not looked at the data comprehensively, but said the large number of speeding instances surprised him.

"Very much so, very much so," Kranz said back in October. "If I have one bus speeding that is one too many."

He promised to address the issue, so we requested updated speeding data and an interview again several months later.

"Do you feel like your school buses are safer today than they were when we originally did this story?" CBS 6 Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit asked Kranz.

"I think what you've done brought it to our attention. I think that has helped us stay within inside those rules, and I think as a result of that, I think we are operating in a much safer environment," Kranz said.

RPS Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz

Kranz, who is now the interim superintendent of RPS, said the number of speeding buses has dropped by half.

He said RPS talked to the drivers who were speeding, wrote them up where necessary, warned them it would be a part of their evaluation process moving forward, and used it as a teaching tool.

"We're saying look, we're not judging you by time, we're not judging whether you're getting from school A to school B and hitting your time, we'd rather us have a safe and sound bus than say I'm saving two minutes," Kranz said.

Still, the most recent round of data we obtained shows some drivers continue to speed, just not as much as before.

"They still speeding though, that's the problem to me," Hicks said.

"What can you say to people who are going to see this follow up report, and still see there are quite a few examples of buses speeding in a month?" Hipolit asked Kranz.

"In that period of time there are 425 instances that's 1.9% of our total runs during that period of time," Kranz responded. "To me, I want to be at zero that's where I want to be."

"I think by doing the follow up we're doing today, by continuing to focus on that report, we're going to get to zero, we will hit zero," Kranz said.

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