Lack of drivers leaves PIL athletes stranded

Daniel Nash
The JV baseball team waits for a bus outside Lincoln last month. Members of that team say they have been stuck for hours waiting on buses to pick them up after games.

The Lincoln JV baseball team had just lost to Reynolds High School and was headed to the parking lot to board the bus back to Lincoln. However, when they got to the lot, there was no bus to be found.

One of the coaches decided to contact a district official to figure out where the bus was.  The coach was told the bus would arrive in 15 minutes. An hour and a half later, in the pitch black dark, the bus finally rolled into the empty parking lot to take the kids back to the school.

For athletes who play in the Portland Interscholastic League, such situations aren’t all that uncommon, especially for teams below the varsity level.

The fact is that buses are constantly late or not showing up at all to give sports teams rides to and from their events. This often leaves students stranded or waiting for an incredibly long time. Spencer Miller, a sophomore JV baseball player, said that “I have waited many times for the bus for very long amounts of time as well.”

This seems to be a common occurrence with many sports teams in the PIL. While speaking to Marci McGillivray, the senior manager for PIL athletics, she noted that “buses are on routes for the entire day. Some [of the buses] are used for only sports, but some are used for sports and taking students home from school as well.”

This means, that if something goes wrong during any part of the bus driver’s schedule then the whole day will be thrown off, making people late throughout the day,

According to Wes Warren, Lincoln’s assistant athletic director, each week the district office sends each school a schedule for the entire week to show them what teams are getting which buses and when they will be departing.

From there, the coaches are allowed to contact the district office for any changes in scheduling such as a new game location. Once that is done the week’s transportation is set in stone and will not be able to be fixed.

One obvious fix to this problem would be to add more buses into the equation, but McGillivray noted that the number of buses that First Student, the agency that provides buses to Portland Public schools, provides cannot change because of the lack of drivers.

This leaves McGillivray working for hours each week to figure out the perfect schedule for each team and their bus needs. The lack of buses ultimately lead some teams to ride taxis to games that are close to them. McGillivray also mentioned that PIL schools are allowed to have up to three team vans per school, yet Lincoln has decided not to use that resource.

The problem has been addressed many times, but the only people that can make the buses arrive on time are the drivers themselves, and until First Student has more drivers, the problem is likely to persist.


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