FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Many school districts are heading into the new year with the same roadblock -- having enough bus drivers to transport students to and from campus.
"COVID really did take the bottom out from under us,” Fort Bend ISD Executive Director of Transportation Demetrius Martin said.
Right now in his district, there are 550 drivers on the job and 100 vacancies.
But daily absences are also a factor -- like the 40 drivers who called out Wednesday.
"So we kind of anticipated some folks possibly calling off," Martin said. "And we have some folks already confirm they wouldn’t be in today."
This district gave families a head’s up on social media to expect delays on the first day back to class after the holidays.
"We waited, waited, waited," FBISD parent Julia Gilder said. "I called transportation.”
Gilder was glad she stuck around at the stop where she drops off her daughter, Rheagan. She said she finally took her to Travis High School after waiting on a bus for nearly an hour.
"Had I not been there, had she just been dropped off as she usually is, I think she would’ve been panicking,” Gilder said.
Martin said delays were minimal considering the shortage but he said he hopes families continue to have patience as many districts deal with the same issue.
For instance, Cy-Fair ISD has 126 vacancies and had 100 absences on Tuesday.
"Most importantly, it’s about safety," Martin said. "We want to make sure we get students transported safely and take care of them.”
Many districts are offering bonuses and paid training for new bus drivers. Check district career websites for more information.
Here's bus driver shortage information from some other districts that responded to our request:
- Alief ISD: 27 vacancies
- Clear Creek ISD: 20 vacancies (not including daily absences)
- Klein ISD: fully staffed
- Pearland ISD: 20 vacancies
- Spring ISD: 64 vacancies
Aldine ISD issued this statement:
"Currently, Aldine ISD daily transportation operations are being met and the district is able to provide safe transportation for all students, to and from school."