Children are now back in school for full-time individual learning. But the uncertainty of getting and bringing children to school is at the head of parents, school districts and bus companies across the country.
“There is a shortage of national drivers, but it is certainly being felt in New York,” said Cory Muirhead, president of New York School Bus Contractors Association, which represents 100 school bus companies across the state.
There are about 50,000 school bus drivers in New York right now, he said, and he estimated that there were 15% to 20% more drivers than before the pandemic.
In New York City, some parents faced bus hiccups on the first day of school on Monday, but the city’s first deputy mayor insisted it would all be resolved quickly.
“We have enough staff and we will reach out to every single bus company to make sure they are addressing any parent complaints, any concerns and we have a hotline to make sure we Pay attention to them,” Dean Fulihan said.
However, in some districts of Long Island and other parts of the state, Muirhead said the decrease is due to several factors. One issue is that a lot of school bus drivers are elderly and more vulnerable to COVID, and therefore do not want to be in a bus full of unvaccinated children. He also added that there is competition in the transportation industry and it is often much easier and faster to become a truck driver than a school bus driver.
“I don’t see it getting better until we return to normalcy,” Muirhead said. “Now this is not to say that once the federal stimulus money is out and more people return to the job force, we will see an uptick there.”
Granthshala 5 NY contacted TWU Local 252, the union representing school bus drivers. A representative said the union president is the only person who can comment or give us a statement, and the president is out of town at a convention.
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