MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Pretty soon, 6th grader Alex Harris may be tracking his Durham bus driver from his iPhone or Android.
I showed the Riverdale Elementary School student and his mother the Durham Bus Tracker, currently being tested in a pilot program. The app would allow families to track several Durham school buses and their routes at once, via GPS, in real time.
"I kind of like that concept," said Alex Harris. "You can see where they're going -- if they're going off route or something like that."
Alex's mom Terri isn't impressed.
She's president of the Shelby County Council PTA. She's the same person who called for Shelby County's school districts to fire Durham after a seemingly endless pattern of safety violations, as well as more than 250 accidents or traffic incidents in Shelby County over the last three years.
"You can track the buses all day long, but what matters to me is who's driving those buses," Terri Harris said.
Wednesday, 21-year veteran Durham bus driver Wanda Alberson appealed to a forum of parents, Teamsters and school board members. Alberson -- who drives three routes for three SCS schools (White Station High, Shady Grove Elementary, Avon Lenox School) -- said the majority of Durham's drivers are competent, diligent and dedicated to child safety, in spite of what she described as poor wages and working conditions.
"I run three schools in three hours," she told the forum. "I know I can't do that (safely). Get to know (your) bus driver. We're not all bad. We have our ups and downs."
The tracker app is not ready for Durham's Shelby County operations. "It is currently only in pilot phase," said Durham spokesperson Molly Hart. "Therefore, we can't yet speak to next steps for the app."
The Journal Times in Racine, WI, reported the app's pilot program there has been well-received.
"Honestly, what we need are competent school bus drivers," Harris said.
And there is no app for that.