SEATTLE — Dozens of Seattle Public Schools (SPS) bus routes are delayed again Friday morning.
Nearly 70 routes were delayed up to two hours, according to the district’s website. Friday is the third day in a row with dozens of delays.
SPS spokesperson Tim Robinson told KING 5 Wednesday morning that some First Student bus drivers quit last week before the start of school.
“Part of what we’re asking, unfortunately, is if [parents] can try to find alternate transportation to the school while First Student, our bus vendor, gets its driver staffing up to speed, and they’re not quite there,” Robinson said Wednesday morning.
The district's transportation department sent out a message to parents Tuesday night warning of bus delays Wednesday morning – the first day of school.
"We apologize for the interruption of your student's yellow bus service. There is a nationwide bus driver shortage, and we are working with our yellow bus provider to hire more drivers and reduce service interruptions," the message reads, in part.
Tuesday’s message went on to "encourage" parents to have an alternative way of getting students to school, and a "back-up transportation plan for the first weeks of school."
Robinson said SPS does not “expect [the bus driver shortage] to be a prolonged problem.” Students that are late to class due to transportation issues will receive an excused absence.
SPS Superintendent Brent Jones said Wednesday morning outside Wing Luke Elementary School that the school bus issue is nothing new.
“My understanding is this is annually something we have a challenge with in terms of buses," he said.
Jones explained that the district's vendor and the district itself is working on incentives to hire more bus drivers. When questioned about the late notice, which came out roughly 12 hours before classes were scheduled to resume on the first day of school, Jones said the district notified parents as soon as it knew of the delays.
Districts across the country are dealing with driver shortages. In Portland, the driver shortage will impact bus routes at 17 schools in the district.
SPS is launching its "180 Days of Excellence" initiative, which is aimed at getting students reacquainted with classrooms, other students and learning materials along with the health and safety measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"We have been counting down the days until they arrive," Jones said. "Now, it's time to get to work."