“We’re not where we want to be. We’re making it work," said the vice president of operations for a local bus company.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — School bus companies continue the scramble to find drivers, all while Pittsburgh Public Schools wants to pay parents to drive their little ones to school.

It’s time to hit the routes for school bus drivers at ABC Transit.

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“We’re not where we want to be. We’re making it work. It’s been tight in most of the districts that we service because of the shortage,” said Todd O’Shell of ABC Transit.

O’Shell is the company’s vice president of operations, but he’s driving a bus too.

“We service Fox Chapel, Shaler area, North Hills, Seneca Valley, Highlands and Sto-Rox,” O’Shell said.

And like most bus companies, ABC Transit is working with Pittsburgh Public Schools.

“We’re still working towards trying to gain as many new applicants as we can for those routes,” O’Shell said.

Applicants like Natalie Elstner, signing up for this reason:

“The kids and getting to know them,” Elstner said.

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The mother of two went back and forth but said the incentives and timing felt right.

“It’s been two weeks, and I was kind of nervous to fill out an application. But I finally called and I did it,” Elstner said.

But she’s just one person – and that’s why Pittsburgh Public Schools hopes some parents can drive their children and agree to “release the seat” for this school year.

Minister Jonathan Davis told KDKA that he can’t do that. The father of five doesn’t own a car.

“No car, so we have to suffer and get on the bus,” Davis said.

His children will be part of the 1,028 students transitioning from yellow buses to Port Authority buses. He said they’re too small to go alone.

“Have to wake my kids up very, very early, and get their clothes on, and get them on the first bus,” Davis said.

For parents who do own cars with kids who didn’t land a school bus this year, the district wants to offer mileage reimbursements. It will total $10 per day roundtrip for less than 12 miles or $20 per day for less than 24 miles.

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A district spokeswoman told KDKA that nearly half of the families who responded to “release the seat” so far do not qualify because their kids are assigned transportation. Ten percent do qualify for reimbursements. The district will update the community next week.

Meghan Schiller