Driver shortage leads to crowded rides home

Bus+4047+makes+a+morning+stop+on+Lakeview+Dr.+on+Oct.+11.

Laura Orozco

Bus 4047 makes a morning stop on Lakeview Dr. on Oct. 11.

After weaving through backpacks in line to step onto the bus, the first thing you see is the front seats are full, groups of friends talk animatedly and the only seats left are the ones  your friends saved for you in the back. A mix of quiet conversation and rowdy laughter fills the bus. At 2:50, you watch the school pass behind you as the bus pulls onto 136 Ave.

Because of a driver shortage, the buses are filling up and both students and current drivers are being affected. Most buses are filled for the afternoon ride.  Students surveyed  assumed that it’s because of the population in the school if not aware of the shortage.

The district and school are also trying to improve the situation by offering bonuses to new drivers hired. Sophomore Tasaane Barris didn’t have strong feelings about the situation while sophomore Adam Colmenares noted overcrowding. 

“The buses being full is a problem since we don’t have much space and some people have to sit on the floor,” Colmenares said. 

Even students not directly affected because they walk or get picked up from school are concerned about crowded buses.  

“Although it doesn’t affect me because I don’t take the bus, it still worries me that a lot of buses are filling up because those people could get COVID and then pass [it] around the school, which is scary,” junior Cathy Otero said. 

The average student isn’t following the nationwide shortage but does notice the effects  on the bus. 

“None of these high schoolers should be trying to fit four people on seats because all other seats are full,” sophomore Rebecca Vuorio said.  

The driver shortage was spurred by lack of demand for drivers the previous school year, leading a large portion of drivers to take other jobs with higher pay. One driver said she wasn’t bothered by the crowded buses because after last year, she’s glad to be able to work. 

In some cases, routes had to be split into two buses to accommodate the imbalance of drivers and students and some buses are fuller in the afternoon than the morning.

“My bus is completely full and we only have two bus stops,” senior Maria Amoros said.   

Sophomore Antonella Arraiz said the difference between now and last year was significant. 

“Last year there were seven people tops, and on test days like 20 tops,” Arraiz said.