Bus Driver Shortage: Helena Schools again using rotating bus schedule

Yellow School Bus.jpg
Posted at 5:12 PM, Sep 01, 2022

HELENA — Due to a shortage of bus drivers, Helena Public Schools will start this current school year by implementing a 4-week rotation bus schedule that is similar to last year’s schedule.

“The last three or four years have been extraordinarily challenging because of a number of different things, primarily COVID. Really, we've lost a whole generation of drivers, those older drivers that have been driving, now do not want to take the risk being around, you know, a bus load full of children,” says Tom Cohn, Helena Public Schools Transportation Director.

The rotating bus schedule means that one week a month parents will have to be responsible for taking their children to and from school. The school district is asking parents who utilize the bus system to confirm their students’ rotation weeks so that they are aware of what days the bus will be unavailable to them.

Cohn says that they are currently 11 people away from being at a point where the bus schedules could go back to normal. But more ideally, he’d like to see 15-17 more people to accommodate for sickness and vacations.

Those families looking for reimbursement for their transportation costs due to the new bus schedule must submit documents before November 1st.

While this may be the case at the start of the school year, Cohn is hopeful that the situation will change before the end of 2022.

“I'm really confident that First Student’s gonna be there hopefully before December, as far as the numbers of drivers that we need,” says Cohn.