Will Bus Shortages Ever End?

Like most schools, AITE is facing a problem regarding bus shortages this year. Despite having so many buses, they all hold very little space. AITE is unique in the Stamford district, as its students share bus rides with Rippowam middle school students. But how is that a problem? Well, in the past two years, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on many people’s jobs, students’ education, and businesses. Many people have either lost their jobs or quit due to the pandemic. COVID-19 struck many individuals hard, one of them being bus drivers.

Many bus drivers either lost or quit their job because of COVID-19, or they aren’t getting paid enough, ultimately leading to a shortage of bus drivers. With buses now being combined, students sit crowded on their buses and are unable to sit where they sat before, making contact tracing difficult. Some students must even share a seat with not one, but two students, which is incredibly unsafe. Bus drivers also have to double their routes, leading to buses being occupied with more students than usual. 

Principal Tina Rivera admits it has been difficult. “It’s been a challenge to our families and the weather changes, it makes it harder for students having to wait outside for the bus, and the weather going down makes it more difficult,” she said. 

With the weather getting colder each day, more students will be sick than usual and snow is likely to start falling soon. With the longer bus routes, students will have to wait longer in the cold weather. The longer students wait for the bus, the higher the chances their health will be impacted by the exposure to the elements. 

There’s no denying that students and families complain about being crowded on the bus or the bus being late. Buses often take about an hour or more to get to their destination, and because of this, parents aren’t happy about the wait time. “I get a lot of phone calls complaining about the wait time, and many out of district bus companies have been impacted as well. A lot of students who take the van will be late. And it’s not only Stamford, but it’s much of Connecticut as well,” said Rivera.

There are many shortages in jobs all around the world because of COVID-19; there are over 8 million people unemployed. Countless people have decided to stop working and quit their job, making it very difficult for these positions to be filled. “This makes it difficult, but there is a shortage of employees in general. The other issue is anyone working with students and having to get COVID-19 testing, it makes it more challenging to resolve this problem. We don’t know how long these bus shortages will last right now; it will last until… they can refill these positions,” said Rivera. 

These bus shortages will last until the current vacant positions get filled, which is not guaranteed. With COVID-19 still flourishing, the best we could do as students is to do our part and try to sit in the same spot and always keep our masks on the bus. Bus shortages will likely continue to last throughout this school year, but the more effort we put into playing our part, the more we can keep our environment safe for ourselves and the people around us.