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School bus driver shortages spark complaints of overcrowding, delays

51% of those surveyed nationwide say driver shortage is ‘severe’ or ‘desperate’

Some families have had to change their daily routines because buses are running late or aren't showing up at all.
Some families have had to change their daily routines because buses are running late or aren't showing up at all.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – “Severe” or “desperate” that’s how more than half of the country’s school districts describe their bus driver shortage.

Locally, some families have had to change their daily routines because buses are running late -- or aren’t showing up at all.

News4Jax is getting daily calls about overcrowding and delays.

The National Association for Pupil Transportation opened a survey to get to the bottom of the problem.

Nearly 1,500 people responded:

  • 51% considered the driver shortage “severe” or “desperate”
  • 78% said it’s getting worse to some degree

They gave a number of explanations, from drivers who don’t want to be exposed to kids who might have COVID-19 to low pay, which has led to recruitment and retention problems.

Several local counties had reported trouble finding drivers even before the pandemic.

The union representing Duval County drivers said the pandemic made the issues even worse.

In Camden County, parents were even asked to take their kids to school on their own because of bus driver a shortage.

In Clay County, several bus drivers retired over the summer, so the district started the school year needing about 15 more drivers.

It’s not just Florida, Massachusetts has resorted to calling in the National Guard to get students to school.

St. Johns County school bus drivers are the highest paid in Florida, making between $16 and $23 an hour, but even that district is struggling to find drivers.

If you’re having issues with buses in your district, here are the numbers for each county’s bus hotline to report complaints:

  • Duval: 904-858-6200
  • Clay: 904-336-0001
  • Nassau: 904-491-9900
  • Alachua: 352-955-7602
  • Baker: 904-259-2444
  • Bradford: 904-966-6735
  • Flagler: 386-586-2145
  • Glynn: 912-267-4120

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