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"Major shortage of drivers": Baltimore-area schools still struggling to fill bus routes

School bus
Posted at 4:36 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 16:36:52-04

As the school year draws to a close, Baltimore-area school systems continue to struggle with serious shortages of bus drivers.

The shortages mean many buses are delayed - or don't arrive at all. That means many students in public schools are unable to get to school, or are struggling to find rides home at the end of the day.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools have daily been reporting the routes that are delayed or not arriving.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore County, the administration at Parkville High School today sent a message to staff:

Please share with your students that the Office of Transportation is experiencing a major shortage of drivers today and that if they can arrange alternate transportation home that it would be recommended. We currently do not know which buses/ routes will not have drivers. Thank you for your assistance in communicating with your students.

This morning, the administration sent staff a list of seven buses that had not arrived nearly half an hour after the start of school. Staff were told: "Students will receive a late bus pass please mark them present and on time."

Last week, Baltimore County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said via email:

The BCPS Department of Transportation continues to work diligently to address any bus delays or challenges that arise. Families with specific cases and incidents are encouraged to contact the Department of Transportation directly for assistance.

It's been a problem the entire school year, which began with a nationwide bus driver shortage. In November, Baltimore County parents said middle-school students were forced to find rides home after the buses never came. Gov. Larry Hogan directed the MVA to speed up licensing for would-be drivers, and the school system worked to entice new bus drivers with signing bonuses. Anne Arundel County Public Schools also dealt with a driver strike.

An Anne Arundel schools bus contractor told WMAR last month that new school start times for the coming year will wreak further havoc on the bus system.