BETHESDA, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Frigid temperatures may be causing many school districts to open late Thursday, but that doesn’t mean some employees won’t have to arrive early.
It’s because school systems have thousands of busses, and on icy-cold mornings, they don’t always start.
“In the transportation industry in general, this is an issue,” said Montgomery County Public Schools Director of Transportation Todd Watkins.
It’s why districts like Montgomery County have what they call “cold start teams.” Members begin as early as 3:00 a.m., generally when temperatures fall to the teens, and literally start every single bus hours before they’re needed.
“It really is the worst job in the department, right? They go from one cold bus seat to another over the course of about an hour and a half,” Watkins said, adding that roughly 90 percent of the busses start right up, leaving more than 100 that may need some extra help.
“The whole purpose is to make sure that when it’s actually time to hit the road and pick up students, that we don’t have some student’s bus sitting in the yard and not able to start,” Watkins explained, “and therefore we strand students out on a cold morning.”
The cold weather teams are made up of volunteers who earn extra money for doing the hard work.