Ongoing Seattle school bus driver shortage creating rampant delays
Families are still experiencing bus delays across Seattle, despite being assured before the beginning of the school year that the bus driver shortage would be solved by now.
According to The Seattle Times, 38 routes experienced delays on Monday and 35 routes had delays up to two hours on Tuesday, leaving parents scrambling for carpools and other modes of transportation.
While Seattle Public Schools expected the shortage to be fixed by contractor First Student, the stop-gap measures put in place to mitigate disruptions are not having the desired impact. Those efforts included increasing the starting hourly wage from $18 to $22 an hour, and offering hiring bonuses of up to $3,000.
First Student has received an uptick in applications, but not enough to properly service all routes. The company told the Times that as of last month, there are 339 bus drivers operating in the district’s 369 routes, and that the goal is have to at least one driver per route.
The school district has reached out to an additional contractor to help fill some of the routes, and has also used taxicabs and charter buses to offset the need.
In the meantime, First Student is hoping to on-board a few new candidates soon. It takes about a month for the company to vet candidates during the training process, so kids will likely be waiting awhile at bus stops for the foreseeable future.