Bus issues create frustrating first week for parents, students in several school districts

PITTSBURGH — It’s been a frustrating first week of school for parents and students in Pittsburgh and several other areas because the bus either doesn’t show up at all or is very late.

“We sat at the bus stop for 45 minutes. Him and some other kids called the school. The school told me there is no bus,” Robin Austin said. “I called 21 times. Two voicemails and no call back.”

Officials in both the Pittsburgh Public Schools and McKeesport School District told Channel 11 they have a shortage of bus drivers.

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PPS’ director of pupil transportation, Megan Patton, said they are making it a priority to get kids to and from school safely. They have 500 drivers and need nearly 200 more as they’re responsible for transporting 17,000 kids.

“We are currently working with all our companies to ramp up and gain additional drivers to assist us in areas we need. Overall, we need 177 drivers, CDL and non-CDL to assist with all of our students,” Patton said. “Right now, we do have incentives with our current bus companies: bonuses from $1,000 to $5,000. Some exceed that depending on the company.”

PPS is using zTrip taxis for students who don’t have a bus driver. There’s also a parent reimbursement program for students who are driven to school and free rides being offered on Port Authority buses for students and parents.

It’s not clear when these bus issues will get resolved.