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Authorities say school bus driver shortages could force some students to take public transportation

In Jan., the US DOT announced a program to ease restrictions on hiring drivers to help the shortages
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Posted at 9:20 PM, Aug 23, 2022

Authorities in Seattle have announced that the city is so low on school bus drivers that parents should be prepared to have students take public transportation if necessary.

As KIRO reported, city officials there told parents that some bus routes would not be in operation by the start of the school year as the nationwide bus driver shortage has affected a list of cities, big and small.

In a statement shared with Seattle families, the school district said, “We know this solution is far from perfect, and we are doing everything we can to minimize disruption. Families who will not have bus service for the start of school may feel frustrated and upset.” The statement continued, “We are committed to making sure that all students who need it have safe and dependable transportation to and from school.”

Another severe bus driver shortage, in Chicago, had 400 buses setting vacant for four days before the school year would start.

As Fox Business reported, a spokesperson for the Chicago Public School District said they have been working with vendors to recruit more drivers by urging that wages be increased to at least $20 per hour there as a way to recruit and retain drivers.

A persisting bus driver shortage in St. Louis caused eight school districts not to have bus service on the first day of school, KSDK reported.

One principal at one high school in the city said about 90% of students could make it to class, with about 50% able to take public transportation. The school district provided free passes for students to use public modes of transportation.

In January, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced a program working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to try and address the school bus driver labor shortage. Together DOE and USDOT would work with other partners to make gaining a commercial driver's license easier by reducing some of the requirements.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said then, “We’ve heard from educators and parents that labor shortages, particularly of bus drivers, are a roadblock to keeping kids in schools." Cardona said, "American Rescue Plan funds can be used to hire these critical staff, including offering increased compensation or other incentives to recruit and retain staff.”