BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Just a few days into the school year and East Baton Rouge parents say they are already having trouble with getting their children to school.

“The transportation system is not very efficient,” said Brikea Williams, the mother of two students.

EBR parents are speaking up about transportation challenges in the school district.

“My daughter normally comes and her shirt is soaking wet. She’s been on the hot bus and she’s exhausted,” said another mother, Sherlyn Wright.

Williams said as a working parent she hoped to use the bus system on the first day of school, but it didn’t go as planned after no bus showed up.

“I waited for close to 40 minutes for the bus to arrive. During that time, I did try to call the transportation office, but it was without any luck,” she explained.

She said she was surprised to discover when she posted her concerns online that many others were experiencing the same issue, including Wright.

“In previous years, the buses were always a no-show or inconsistent. So I’ve been forced to place my daughter in morning care just to make sure she arrives on time and I’m able to make it to work,” said Wright.

Parents also expressed that there’s been a disconnect with communication, so they’re having to place Apple air tags or phones in their child’s backpack just to track their location.

“School ends at 3 p.m. and so for your kids to come home at 6:30, 7:30 p.m., it’s definitely an issue,” said Williams.

“The bus app normally says it’s inactive. We don’t know where our children are, so it’s a nightmare,” added Wright.

“The law mandates that every child should have access to a free and quality education. Well then, in order to have access to it, you have to be able to get to it,” said EBR School Board Vice President Dawn Collins.

This year, the school system is still experiencing bus driver shortages and has also implemented an opt-in form this year for those who want service.

“The opt-in process was an opportunity for the district to analyze and look at our parental needs regarding transportation,” said EBR Administrative Transportation Director James Bell.

“The way we’ve previously been handling it in East Baton Rouge Parish, is to just automatically assign bus routes to students. Not the perfect way to do it, but that’s how we have been doing it,” said EBR School Board Vice President Dawn Collins. “There are a whole lot more families that need transportation services, than need to opt out. The idea of opting into transportation with a population that has a huge need for transportation is an unnecessary burden to put on ourselves.”

Parents are looking for a solution when it comes to getting students on and off the bus efficiently and effectively.

“My call to action for East Baton Rouge is to really do operations research, to kind of understand some of the best practices in other school districts and to partner with the parents to really understand our challenges. Then, take that information and that feedback to kind of redesign how the transportation system is operated today,” said Williams. “I would also like to see more streamlined, centralized communications that would allow the parents, the school, and the school transportation office to all communicate with each other because at this time, calling the number is just inefficient.”

“If possible, eliminate the entire elementary transfer system. My son’s transportation problem wasn’t fixed until he was given a direct route,” added Wright. “But something needs to be done to make sure these babies are getting home at a decent time.”

Bell said they are working to improve the bus system.

“We are working with the schools to identify those deficiencies and provide an immediate solution,” he said.

They are also looking for more bus drivers.

“We have increased our recruitment of bus operators. We’re working with them on the candidates hand-in-hand to provide them an opportunity to receive their calls in a timely fashion and be able to get those individuals,” said Bell.

He said those who are having problems with the bus system can contact transportation at 225-226-3784 or your child’s school.