By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH, PA (KDKA) – Parents across the city of Pittsburgh were excited to send their kids back to the classroom until Pittsburgh Public Schools leaders announced it may not happen.

“Education will continue and we are working to get our children back in school with transportation as best we can,” said PPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet.

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Busing is the big issue. District leaders said one of the bus companies doesn’t have enough drivers, but what about the others?

“Not one week has been the same. It doesn’t matter what the schedule is, you never know what is going to happen, so it’s been ever-changing and that’s been the biggest struggle to adapt to,” said WL Roenigk GM J.B. Orris.

WL Roenigk contracts with Pittsburgh Public Schools for roughly 30 routes. This company currently has enough drivers but will pull people from other jobs to help fill holes if needed.

“We have nine different garages, so the flexibility of our drivers is what makes that work for Pittsburgh. Last week I had people from the McKees Rocks garage driving for Freeport School District,” Orris said.

It’s the pulling to fill that may have hurt PPS. Orris told KDKA when schools started returning to in-person learning last fall, those districts got the first available bus drivers. As more schools ramped up, less drivers were available.

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For example, Upper St. Clair School District consolidated several bus routes early on due to online learning and to ensure there were enough drivers.

North Hills School District leaders told KDKA’s Nicole Ford they had to adjust some routes due to not enough drivers a few weeks ago when in-person learning went to four days a week.

While other districts like McKeesport, Montour, Shaler and North Allegheny have not experienced those issues, all four were some of the first to return to classroom learning.

So, what can the companies do to keep drivers?

“The biggest thing in keeping our drivers is just trying to keep morale up and letting them know they are needed and having flexibility with them when they need it,” Orris said.

Orris said he’s hoping to attract more applicants at job fairs this summer.

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You can find out how to apply on any of the company or school district websites.