PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More than two months into the school year and it’s still happening.

For many families, any disturbance to the morning routine can throw the entire family off-kilter.

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But families continue to experience that last-minute notification that their child’s bus won’t be there, or the route is being consolidated with another route.

“I actually drove the 15 and 19 combos this morning so I can speak to you know we had we’ve had a number of illnesses,” says ABC Transit Vice President of Operations Todd O’Shell.

He’s talking about the six drivers who called off sick on Wednesday in the Seneca Valley School District.

“Sometimes we don’t know until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning, which was a case yesterday where we had a number of call-offs because we had illnesses with some of the drivers,” he explains.

O’Shell says they’ve gotten pretty good at combining routes to keep from canceling any child’s bus but the answer is still more drivers.

The situation in some districts is getting better.

Pittsburgh Public School Transportation Chief Megan Patton says the situation is getting better.

Just a month ago driver call-offs were prompting as many as five canceled bus routes a day.

“Now with 21 contractors and getting notifications for maybe five a week, that’s pretty low,” Patton says.

The number of students depending on alternative transportation has dropped from over 200 a month ago to “about 40 students that we are still working to secure a form of transportation.”

Those students are either getting to school by the Port Authority or “parental reimbursement.”

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So why aren’t the numbers getting better more quickly?

O’Shell is pulling out every possible recruiting point.

“We have the best lunch break available of any job out there,” he says with a smile.

While it’s working, “We’re getting people coming through the door which is a positive for us. But unfortunately, we’ve had as many if not more, leave driving because of family medical personal issues,” O’Shell adds.

O’Shell is no longer shocked when an experienced driver walks in and says, “I’m worried. You know, I’m worried that I will get COVID and they drove last year and they’ve started the year out and for whatever reason, they’ve had a scare.”

So even as new applicants arrive, experience is going out the door.

One issue deterring some applicants is the complicated, almost mechanical knowledge of the bus trainees must learn.

O’Shell says it’s required but really unnecessary because the companies have mechanics to handle all those duties.

“I think many people don’t proceed and even start because of those roadblocks,” he says.

While many districts are juggling to get the kids to class, Patton sees the situation improving in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

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“All of our drivers are reporting to work and attending their routes that need to be attended to and it has decreased the number of call-offs.”