SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Public Schools (SPS) is responding to transportation problems the district has experienced during the first week of the 2022 school year.
According to Durham School Services, the transportation contractor for SPS, 170 bus drivers were employed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, there are 106 drivers employed, a loss of 40%.
Because of the ongoing bus driver shortage, some SPS students have had to walk to school because of the extended walk boundary set by the district. The boundary was extended from one mile to one and a half miles because of the driver shortage.
SPS also consolidated bus stops and partnered with Spokane Transit Authority to increase high school ridership. The district said doing this has addressed the loss of drivers and improved consistency for many families.
Despite this, SPS said they know issues are still present and they plan to work to address them.
"We are not satisfied with the status quo and will continue working to improve the transportation system to ensure all riders arrive at school and at home on time," SPS said in a letter sent to parents.
Families that registered their children for the bus and have questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the new SPS transportation hotline at (509) 354-5970. The hotline will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
KREM 2 joined a group of students on their 2.8-mile walk from their home to school on Friday morning. Kaycee Vanderhoff, one of the parents, said she registered her students for the bus in June, but was told there was no bus for her children two days before school started.
Vanderhoff said she called the district every day this week asking about a bus. KREM 2 reached out to SPS and was told there is a bus stop a little more than a half hour from Vanderhoff's home.
Within an hour of KREM 2's call, Vanderhoff was called by the district and told about the bus stop.
Anyone with questions outside of staffed hours can send a message to spokaneschools.org/letstalk.
Durham recently increased rates of pay for drivers. Find more information on open positions here.
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