CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County School District officials are talking with another area bus driving company to develop a contingency plan in the event of a strike by Durham School System bus drivers.
"If an emergency situation were to occur we're going to step up to the plate as an organization and make sure we provide for the safety of those children," said CARTA Chairman Elliot Summey.
Summey says his organization will do all they can to help parents and students without transportation including waiving the ride fee on city buses to get children to and from school.
"If the strike occurs and a child tries to get on our bus we're not going to turn them away," said Summey. "We're not going to require the children to pay or have passes or have to learn how to ride our system. We'll keep a head count of the kids getting on there and we'll figure out a reimbursement system with the school district at some point."
According to a release, Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is working closely with Charleston County School District to offer support in the event of a school bus driver strike.
CARTA released the following statement Friday:
"When the safety of the children in our community is at risk, it is important for us to do everything we can to support and protect them. Charleston County helps to financially support CARTA and it is our duty to serve this county's school system, the children and their families. Should a work stoppage occur, CARTA in conjunction with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office will be working with the school district to ensure the safety of the persons most affected by this situation- our children."
Durham School Systems and Local Team 509 are in the middle of contract negotiations. Although a strike has been approved by Local Team 509, the two sides are still taking part in negotiations and bus services are continuing.
Summey says 80 percent of Charleston County schools fall along CARTA bus routes but in a situation where kids still need rides in areas that CARTA doesn't service, the organization has another plan.
The Chairman says Express buses will pick groups of kids up and bring them to a central location until family can get them. Sheriff Al Cannon agreed to have his deputies on standby to provide protection at those locations if the strike becomes a reality.