School bus cancellation; driver shortage puts student transportation in jeopardy

A+bus+waiting+for+students+outside+of+Lincoln.+District+wide+bus+route+cancellations+have+created%0Achallenges+for+Lincoln+students+struggling+to+get+to+school.

Tabitha Lee

A bus waiting for students outside of Lincoln. District wide bus route cancellations have created challenges for Lincoln students struggling to get to school.

Tabitha Lee and Sophia Halpern

School bus routes all around the United States have been cancelled due to bus driver shortages. In Massachusetts, the National Guard has even been called in to drive students to school.

Portland Public Schools (PPS) has also experienced bus driver shortages, resulting in route cancellations in some neighborhoods. The lack of available bus drivers has been affecting PPS students and families. 

A national survey of districts by three major student transportation organizations revealed some stark data, including that 51% of respondents described their bus driver shortage as either ‘’severe’ or ‘desperate,’”  said Dan Jung, Chief Operating Officer, and Teri Brady, Director of PPS Transportation, in a recent email to PPS families.

This shortage includes the Lincoln community. 

“All of the PPS routes for Lincoln were canceled,” Lincoln Business Manager Jill Ross said. “We have 420 students who in theory should be able to ride those buses.”

The eight bus lines that go to and from Lincoln that were canceled are as follows: 22, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33 and 34.

Junior Colby Herman is one of the students who has been affected by the bus cancellations. She lives in Linnton, a 20 minute drive away from Lincoln. Herman is a student who has been having bus issues the whole school year, even before buses were cancelled. 

“A lot of the time I would go to the bus stop and the driver wouldn’t show up, and I would be late to school,” she said.

With no warning about bus cancellations, Herman was late to class and forced to scramble to find a ride to school. Since the cancellations, she has had to come up with a multi-step plan to get to school. 

“I get up super early, and then, by 7:30, I have to be at my friend’s apartment in Northwest Portland. I have to park, and then I take Trimet to school,” Herman said. She’s been paying approximately 10 dollars a day.

Like  many other Lincoln students ,she feels the weight of the bus cancellations daily.

“I have less time to get school work done,” she said. “And I’m more stressed financially.”

PPS has been attempting to implement solutions since the closures.

One of the new solutions is a carpool app. On Sept. 26 these solutions were communicated to PPS families by email.

“In order to provide additional ways for families to arrange transportation for students,” states the email, “PPS is making the software (web and mobile) application Carpool to School (CTS) available to Lincoln families during this school bus route disruption.” 

The email also explained that stipends are available for families affected by the cancellations.

“Families impacted by the cancellation of 13 bus routes are eligible for a $300 monthly transportation support to cover costs of alternative modes of transportation to and from school.”

 

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