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Seattle Public Schools families struggle with ongoing bus delays

Some Seattle Public Schools parents are still waking up to messages that their student’s school bus is delayed.

SEATTLE — The nationwide bus driver shortage continues to impact families in the Seattle Public Schools district, with some bus routes facing up to two-hour delays.

Dawn Adams has three children in the district and said she understands the driver shortage. Her older child, who is now in middle school, went through bus delays in 2019 when the district also faced staffing issues.

Adams said this shortage seems bigger with no end in sight.

"I'm kind of tired of getting those same recordings every night," said Adams. "I would rather you just give me an update versus reminding me every day that I don't have a school bus for my kid." 

Adams joins other parents who said they aren't happy with the communication from the district.

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Victoria Burwell's son is in third grade at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and said she still isn't getting texts or emails despite calling the bus company multiple times to verify they have the correct contact information.

"I have nowhere to check for updates," said Burwell. "So, since that's been a mess in the morning and I have no idea what to rely on, I've just been taking him in the morning, which means I'm just late to work."

Burwell said while she too understands the driver shortages, she wishes the district was finding more creative solutions to address the problem.

"It's, I don't know, the third week of school? It would be great to be in a routine at this point," she said. 

Meanwhile, Adams pointed to other cities in the country that proposed calling in the national guard to help. 

Seattle Public Schools said it is unclear how many students are impacted by the delays because not every student takes the bus every day.

RELATED: Bonney Lake families navigate 'severe' school bus driver shortage

In an email statement, the district said they are looking into solutions such as providing shuttle van service.

The full statement reads: 

"Seattle Public Schools continues to work toward improving its delivery of transportation services for students.

"The single biggest factor impacting on-time performance is the shortage of drivers employed by our transportation provider, First Student. This shortage is being experienced by virtually all school districts nationwide. Personnel challenges are being experienced by many other sectors of the transportation industry.

"An interdepartmental group at SPS has been meeting to analyze transportation performance and factors impacting delivery of services. The goal is to explore solutions that will have a positive impact on SPS transportation services. Some possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing shuttle van service
  • Adjusting/combining routes to reduce delays
  • Expanding ORCA card (Metro) use

"For those families who are on a late route, we will alert you at the earliest possible time. For those families who expect to be alerted, but are not receiving any messaging from our Transportation Department, we urge you to contact your school to ensure they have the correct, updated information.

"We continue to ask for families’ patience as we work to improve bus service."

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