PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As more Pittsburgh Public School students head back to class, a big challenge is getting the children to school.
So one of the ideas being tossed around is using Port Authority buses to get some students to class.
The current driver shortage for the district is about 200 drivers. More than 300 are needed for the fall.
“Drivers are calling off. Drivers are going on leave. Drivers are getting exposed. It’s just a different number of scenarios currently right now that’s in place weakening the shortage already,” PPS Director of Transportation Megan Patton said.
This is leaving a seat gap. Meaning kids won’t have a seat on the bus when all the students go back to class on May 3. The district’s new seat gap will be revised and released Tuesday after Support Category 3 returns to school on Monday.
“Just trying to be creative as to other ways we can assist families to get the students to school,” Patton said.
One of those ways would be to use Port Authority to get the children to class. District leaders said it would be a temporary fix to the problem. Students would get a Connect ticket from the district to use the bus to get to and from school. For elementary level students, a family member could also receive a connect ticket to escort their child.
“So one family member and the student to get to and from school. We would provide those on a day-to-day basis as the student would attend classes,” Patton said.
The hope is, as more people get vaccinated, more drivers come back to work or apply for openings.
“We did have a very high number of drivers that are servicing their students, they did get vaccinated,” Patton said over Zoom.
So far only a handful of families are taking advantage of the Connect tickets, but that is expected to go up as the district alerts families this week about if their child is impacted by the seat gap.
Click here to apply for a bus driver opening.
Click here to learn more about getting children to school.
School officials are looking to provide an update on busing by the end of the week.
The Port Authority said in a statement that they welcome Pittsburgh Public School students aboard their vehicles as long as they are following the same rules and guidelines as all of their other customers. Students can use the buses that are already in service.