Frustrations grow as students face bus delays and cancellations

A shortage of drivers has lead to route restructuring and numerous delays and cancellations
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 4:48 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Frustrations continue for Wausau school parents. Hundreds of students in the Wausau School District have had unexpected delays or canceled bus routes to and from school in the past week.

Bus company ‘First Student’ sent home a letter to parents apologizing for the delays and cancellations and said their lack of drivers is fueling the problem. While the driver shortage is nationwide, Wausau is getting hit hard.

“Locally it’s a little bit worse than it is nationally, but the bus driver shortage is causing us to cancel and delay some routes,” says Bob Tess, Chief Finance and Business Services Officer, Wausau School District.

Tess said last week the district had rides for about 350 students with severe delays, categorized by delays of more than 30 minutes, and some were even canceled. He said ‘First Student’ reworked all the routes over the weekend. Monday they had around 60 students impacted by delays.

“Some routes that weren’t compromised previously are compromised now, but it’s in the name of making everybody’s situation better,” said Tess.

‘First Student’ plans to make improvements throughout Thanksgiving weekend. For now, they’re adding students to buses, making rides a bit longer. Some students will be scheduled to arrive at school later to combat the issue.

“Teachers and other staff sometimes do have to stay behind just to make sure somebody’s at school when the buses are late. So we are incurring some costs at the district level just by staffing our buildings a little bit longer than we normally would have,” said Tess.

Other local districts are facing similar challenges, but Tess says not to the extent Wausau is because of the school district’s size. “We’re appreciative that our families and our staff are as patient as they have been and we’re committed to improving this bussing situation,” said Tess.

Tess said you should be contacted by ‘First Student’ or the district if their route is impacted. You can also download the First View app on your phone and track your child’s route.

Attempts were made to reach out to ‘First Student’ for comments, but they have not gotten back to us at this time.