Bus driver shortage affects high school sports
The current bus driver shortage is impacting high school athletics more severely than ever in the past. There has been a shortage of bus drivers since a few years before the pandemic. The main reasons people are unwilling to be a bus driver is the irregular work hours and undesirable pay. Most of the time it’s early in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, and late in the evening.
“It was probably the most stressful part of my swim season this year,” said Emily Firkus, who is the Minnehaha swim coach and middle school science teacher. The majority of the swim team is not able to drive, so they had to rely on buses or parents to get them to their meets. On days when there were no buses for the team, she would have to rely on parents being able to drop everything and get their child to the meet.
“Last year was actually one of the easiest years I’ve had scheduling buses for athletics,” said Emily Kennett who is the Assistant to Athletic Director.
Last year, the majority of schools were still virtual and bus drivers were not driving those schools’ bus routes. However, this year, with the majority of the state back in-person for school, many of the drivers have to drive the normal daily routes. Kennett usually sends the bus company a list of all the buses the sports will need about a month before each season starts.
“This year they let me know ahead of time the bus driver shortage is really bad,” said Kennett. They also informed her that she would need to get the information about the buses needed as soon as possible.
“There have been some days when they have told us right away. I’m not going to be able to schedule a bus for that game or that meet,” said Kennett.
Other times where she gets the call during or after lunchtime saying they can’t get a driver for the trip that’s in a couple of hours.
“And then we’re scrambling trying to figure out how are we going to get another bus.” Kennet described.
Multiple times this fall, sports would have to share a bus with each other if they were going to the same area.
“From what I’ve been told from both of our busing contractors, they’re starting to get more drivers now.” Scott Glenn, the Director of Transportation said. This means that hopefully, buses will be more accessible for the winter and spring athletic seasons.