Seattle’s lack of school bus service leaves scores of students at home

By: | May 11, 2021

In Seattle, school bus transportation is being offered to a fraction of more than 16,000 students who qualify for it, leaving many families with no access to in-person instruction. Unlike its neighboring districts, Seattle Public Schools told families it could only guarantee transportation to kids legally entitled to it — namely, homeless students and some kids receiving special education services.

What happened was a domino effect: The expansion of in-person instruction in April mandated by Gov. Jay Inslee’s order a month earlier was much faster and broader than SPS had planned for. The hybrid schedule negotiated by the district and teachers union made it difficult for drivers to run multiple routes, and the district’s primary school-bus contractor, First Student, had furloughed many of the drivers assigned to Seattle schools since the start of the pandemic. That left the company with fewer than half the drivers that normally staff routes by the time school started. And this is all playing out against the backdrop of a national school-bus driver shortage.

First Student currently transports around 1,100 students, compared to 8,400 students on average in the period before schools shut down last school year, according to the district.

Read more from The Seattle Times.

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