PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent says a transportation shortage could impact students’ return to the classroom.
“For all students to return May 3rd, we would need at least 200 drivers. Our driver count has decreased by 50 percent from the last two years,” said PPS Transportation Director Megan Patton.READ MORE: 'We've Missed Our Guests So Much:' Theaters Reopening In The Cultural District Brings Sense Of Normalcy
That’s 200 more bus drivers who need to be signed up and trained in just three weeks’ time. Just this first week alone, the district has nine drivers on leave which left holes for 27 routes.
“Some of the companies are not in business anymore, bus drivers who chose other jobs — so we are advertising this information, making sure we have viable options for transportation,” said PPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet.
HAPPENING NOW —> Pittsburgh Public Schools says it’s facing a major bus driver shortage with the return to school. When all students return in May, there will be a 1200 transportation gap. We will tell you what the district is doing and how parents can help close the gap on @KDKA pic.twitter.com/8ICWaLSMfY
— Nicole Ford (@NicoleFordTV) April 9, 2021
While the district is looking for new contracts and community partners, it’s also asking parents to step up. If a parent finds their own transportation, then that will open a seat on a bus for another student.
“We are contacting families and having families provide support tickets through Let’s Talk to see if they are planning on releasing their seats for other students. We are just keeping the open communication going,” Patton said.READ MORE: The Search For Kodiak, The National Aviary's Steller's Sea Eagle, Continued On Sunday
Hamlet says if the district can’t find a solution, some students may have to stay remote.
The district put out a survey on transportation needs, but not all parents have filled it out. The current data shows a shortfall of transportation for 1,200 students, but that number is expected to grow. The issue could impact the fall return too as leaders told KDKA they need 350 more bus drivers for the fall.
WATCH: Nicole Ford Reports
Pittsburgh Public parents have a lot of questions.
“We don’t even know anything about bus schedules. What’s going on with buses? Are we going to be responsible for brown bag lunches?” said Jen Duceour, whose son attends Pittsburgh Public Schools.
ABC Transit’s vice president of operations says there’s a lack of drivers because other jobs were hiring while buses weren’t running.
The district says it’s ramping up the promotion of school bus driver recruitment efforts, prioritizing transportation needs of students with specialized services, accommodating an earlier return to school for the children of bus drivers and engaging community groups and local churches for alternative means of transportation.MORE NEWS: Son Of Carnegie Mellon University President, Thomas Jahanian, Dies After Being Pulled From Monongahela River
If you can provide transportation for your child, you are asked to contact the district online or through 412-529-HELP. If the parent can provide transportation, that child can return on May 3.