School district increases number of bus routes

News

ARGENTA, Ill. (WCIA) — Shortages have been an on-going theme throughout the pandemic. Bus driver shortages are happening nationwide, but one Central Illinois School District is excited to welcome more drivers starting today.

The Argenta-Oreana School District Transportation director said the new schedule began today and he’s excited to bring on more drivers. They started with 10 routes at the beginning of the school year and now have added 4 more. Now, buses won’t be as cramped and trips will be shorter.

“We started the school year this year with six routes less than what we typically had,” Mark Daley, Director of Transporation, said.

Bus driver shortages are causing problems for school districts and families.

“We have been very fortunate here in that we’ve been able to cover every one of our routes every day,” Daley said. “Even with the shortage we were able to manipulate our routes in such a way that we’ve been able to cover all our routes.”

Mark Daley, the director of the Argenta-Oreana School District Transportation, is happy to announce they are able to add and update routes. He says some drivers were out sick at the beginning of the year, but have now returned

“We were able to then add more routes and lower the population on the buses so that we have fewer kids on the buses,” Daley said. “We had several buses that had 60 plus kids on them.”

They now have nearly 40 students on a bus with 14 shorter routes.

“By adding buses, of course, we’re able to spread our routes out and be able to service areas a little quicker with shorter routes,” Daley said.

While the shortage is still impacting school districts nationwide, another hurdle is coming. New federal guidelines coming in February are going to increase the time it takes to train bus drivers.

“Before as quick as the student could learn we could get them through the process, now we have to dedicate “X” number of hours to each student that we train,” Daley said.

He says this will make the process longer to train a driver and he’s nervous it could turn people away from the job, but for now, he’s happy to make the routes a little shorter and a little less crowded for the kids.

Parents should have been sent the new updated schedule. There will be new pick up and drop off locations. Daley says he has more drivers finishing training.

Students on school buses are approximately 70-times more likely to reach school safely than if traveling by car, according to the “American School Bus Council”. Roughly, 25-million kids ride the school bus every day. Daley said school buses are the safest vehicle on the road.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.