South Bend Schools bus driver shortage causing delays

Parents say their students who ride South Bend school buses are arriving late to school and are arriving home late from school. The district says there is a driver shortage and they are working to recruit new drivers.

“It's horrible. There's some times that the bus is 25 to 35 minutes late,” said Miracle Catching.

Catchings' 7-year-old daughter attends Coquillard Elementary.

She said the buses are consistently tardy picking her daughter up in the morning.

“So many times she'll be like, 'Mom I didn't get to eat breakfast because the bus was so late.' That's not fair,” Catching said.

Catching said it is also an issue after school.

“I've called and they're like everything is okay. They're going to be there soon. Then here's another 30 minutes and I'm like where's my child. I get really worried,” she explained.

On Wednesday morning, another parent had to make special arrangements to get his daughter to school on time.

Shawn Moffitt said his child waited and waited for the bus so he decided to take her himself.

“She went out there and I don't know if it was late or didn't come,” Moffitt said.

Parents and students also highlighted overcrowded buses as an issue.

 “There are way too many kids on one bus,” Catching said.

 “Like three people in a seat sometimes,” Freshman student Raejaun Jones added.

South Bend Community Schools assure parents it is working to correct the issue – and it's in the midst of recruiting additional drivers.

Currently the school corporation employs more than 200 drivers.

By this summer, it hopes to hire 30 to 40 more.

“The push is on now for our summer recruiting. Where we recruit a batch of drivers, train them over the summer, get them ready to start in the fall,” said Michael Nolen, South Bend Schools Director of Transportation.

Nolan said South Bend Schools is just one of several school districts across Michiana experiencing a shortage.

“When the economy is bad, there are more bus drivers available. When the economy gets better there are many better jobs that drivers go to,” he explained.

Parents and students hope additional drivers will mean more buses and more bus routes, so South Bend students can get to and from school safe and on schedule.

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