Last year, some school systems in Massachusetts were so short of bus drivers that Governor Charlie Baker had to call in the National Guard to help students get to class.
The situation has never reached such dire conditions in the Attleboro area, and school officials report they are in pretty good shape for the start of this school year, even though school bus companies are looking for more. of drivers.
“Attleboro has not been affected by the shortage of bus drivers,” Superintendent David Sawyer said by email. “Our own fleet and our main transport providers, Bloom and Van Pool, have enough staff to operate all our routes.
“Where the shortage tends to impact us is during the school year, when we lose drivers or have to add routes due to new student enrollment,” Sawyer added. “That’s when finding new drivers is the most difficult.”
North Attleboro, which uses WT Holmes Transportation Co. in Norfolk, also reports no issues with bus drivers.
“We are fortunate to have a full staff to begin the school year, and we do not anticipate any disruption to our service,” Superintendent John Antonucci said.
As in Attleboro, H&L Bloom in Taunton offers bus service to Norton.
“We had no problems with the drivers,” Superintendent Joseph Baeta said. “Our internal minibuses/vans are also fully utilized and no openings at this time. To date, we are on the right track.
Bloom, who did not respond to The Sun Chronicle for comment, advertises school bus and van drivers on its website.
“No experience necessary. We will train you at our headquarters,” the post read.
King Philip and its elementary school systems in the town of Wrentham, Plainville and Norfolk are served by Holmes Transportation.
Wrentham Schools also use the VanPool bus company in Wrentham for special needs transport.
“Both companies have sufficient vehicles and drivers to cover the Wrentham routes without any disruption to student services,” Superintendent Allan Cameron said. “Both companies are actively recruiting drivers.”
At Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, the situation is a little more uncertain. He also uses Holmes.
“We hope the bus situation will be resolved this year – we are still awaiting a final response on additional routes from the transit company,” Superintendent-Director Karen Maguire said in an email.
“Unfortunately last year we were unable to provide transportation for some clinical partnerships, extracurricular activities and some regular day specialty errands due to driver shortages,” Maguire said. “Our transport company is doing an excellent job, but it is at the mercy of the pool of drivers. We very much hope that these problems will be resolved this year.
“We are unique because of the need for transportation during the school day in addition to morning and afternoon trips,” Maguire added. “We have several vocational training programs that operate in the community in medical settings or in construction programs. It’s hard to do it without transportation.
The superintendent pointed out that the school is fortunate that some staff have obtained school student transport certificates so that they can help with some of the transportation.
“However, we really hope we can get back to normal with transportation,” Maguire said.
At Bishop Feehan in Attleboro, students who take a bus to school use GATRA, the Taunton-based regional transit service, school president Tim Sullivan said.
Across the country, school districts are struggling with a shortage of bus drivers. It has been that way throughout the pandemic, as many businesses have faced an uphill battle to retain and hire employees.