School bus driver shortage leads to cancelation of bus routes in Wausau

So far this school year an average of 2 routes have been canceled each day
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 7:02 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Not even a week into the school year, the shortage of school bus drivers continues to be a major concern. The company in charge of buses in the Wausau School District is having to cancel routes because of the shortage.

The Wausau School District said the bus cancellations are forcing parents to make other transportation arrangements. Some parents are only getting a few hours notice of the route change.

”We need drivers,” said Bob Tess, the chief finance and business services officer for the Wausau School District.

Some parents of students in the Wausau School District have had to find another way to get their kids to school.

“So far this school year, we’ve averaged about 2 canceled routes each day,” said Tess.

Parents have been receiving notifications through the First Student app, a phone call from First Student, and the Wausau School District’s School Messenger that their child’s bus route has been canceled.

“Generally speaking, that’s mostly First Student’s responsibility to attract and retain drivers,” said Tess.

First Student is contracted by the Wausau School District to supply the buses, but the shortage of drivers means more canceled routes.

“That means we’re canceling routes sometimes well in advance, sometimes the day of for students that thought they were getting a yellow bus ride to school. Or thought they were getting a yellow bus ride home that isn’t getting those bus rides that they need,” said Tess.

The shortage of drivers is also a big challenge for extracurricular activities.

“In the afternoon those drivers are occupied getting kids home from school,” said Tess, “and in the fall especially a lot of those extracurricular events happen.”

First Student said they’re working to adjust bus services to accommodate staffing shortages. In the meantime, parents may have to make other arrangements.

“It’s a very small percentage for our yellow bus riders but it is a possibility,” said Tess.

First Student is hiring school bus drivers. If you’re interested in becoming a bus driver, click here.