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Nationwide School Bus Driver Shortage Leaving Kids And Parents Out Of Luck Here In New York

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EAST RAMAPO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A school bus driver shortage is gripping the nation.

Massachusetts has called out the National Guard to pick children up.

CBS2’s Nick Caloway says the shortage is hitting home in Rockland County.

Outside Eldorado Elementary School in Chestnut Ridge, there were more taxi cabs than school buses Tuesday.

“No bus, no driving,” one person said.

Many parents who rely on bus transport for their kids were told at the start of the school year they were out of luck. Sheana Green is one of them.

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“On the first day of school they called to let parents know that we have to be the buses. We have to pick up and drop off because they don’t have the bus drivers for the children,” Green said.

East Ramapo Central School District is facing a severe bus driver shortage. Officials say the district is short about 27 drivers right now, leaving nearly 2,000 public and private school students without a ride.

Frustrations boiled over at an East Ramapo Central School board meeting Monday night. Parents were critical of the district’s handling of the mess.

“They need to be picked up. Do your jobs, please,” one person said. “I’m ashamed for you all.”

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East Ramapo School Superintendent Dr. Clarence Ellis is asking parents for patience.

“We heard them loud and clear last night. And we’re working feverishly for this to be rectified,” Ellis said.

Experts say bus driver shortages are nothing new, and were made worse by the pandemic. In New York, on average, districts report being short about 15-20% this school year.

During the pandemic, many bus drivers lost their jobs, so they got into the package delivery business. Others got out for safety reasons.

“Many people who are in this industry are older people, many retired people. And many of them decided that they didn’t want to risk their health anymore for the job and they moved on,” said David Christopher, executive director of the New York Association for People Transportation.

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School officials are working with lawmakers in Albany to try and expedite training and certification for new bus drivers, a process that takes about six to eight weeks.

CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report. 

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