LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The first day of school is always chaotic on the buses.
“If we have all of our bus drivers filled, there’s going to be delays because it’s the first day of school,” Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “We’re trying to get kids to make sure they’re on the right bus on the right time and all of those things, so there’s always going to be a delay on that first day, those first few days, until we get into a routine.”
Pollio said the shortage of bus drivers only adds to the mess. The district currently has around 50 routes that are uncovered, leading to delays of anywhere from 15 minutes to 95 minutes.
Pollio said the district is getting creative about making up for the shortfall of drivers.
“Buses are going to be a little more crowded because we consolidated some routes, having to do some second and third pickups, so we’re having to be creative. There’s no doubt about it,” Pollio said. “But I don’t think this issue or problem is going to go anywhere in the near future. It’s something every district is struggling with.”
But help is on the way: Pollio said the district recently hired around 20 drivers to cover some routes, and more are coming.
“Good news. We’ve got a lot of bus drivers in our pipeline,” he said. “So hopefully in the next few weeks, that’ll be reduced greatly.”
The district held a hiring event last month to recruit more drivers. It’s also offering more incentives to bring those drivers in, including more pay.
Pollio said if parents can take their kids to school, that would help, but they will not cancel routes entirely.
“I would say we’re doing everything we possibly can, with the amount of bus drivers we have, to make sure every child gets picked up every day and brought to school safely,” he said.