The school bus driver shortage is still causing chaos for families in Buffalo.
“I get to do chores. Well, first eat breakfast, do my chores, and then watch TV,” said Malachi Nash. “I also read a book.”
That’s what a typical day is like for Malachi Nash of South Buffalo. He’s in the 7th grade and is supposed to be in school. Instead he’s at home because the bus stopped coming to pick him up.
His mom Rachel doesn’t have a car and can’t take the bus alone because of her disability.
“I can’t just get up and walk. If they need me there in 15 minutes, it takes me almost two hours to get there, to walk there,” said Rachael Nash, Malachi’s mom and mother of 6. “I could ride my bike there, but I have to lug another bike with me, just so that he doesn’t have to walk.”
He’s only been to school two days so far. The first day there was a two hour wait for the bus. Then the second day the bus didn’t show up at the school to take him home, so the teacher drove him home.
“The bus stopped showing up, they said the driver quit and that was it. And there was no afternoon bus driver,” Nash said.
His grandmother has been trying to help.
“Put them on remote learning, until you figure out the buses,” said Tanya Leddon. “Because the excused have got to stop.”
The school is a New York State Special Education Day School. It’s operated by the state, and it depends on First Student and the surrounding 40 districts in WNY to help coordinate busing.
“Our site coordinators are very aware of each and every student that has experienced issues. We have been in communications with families,” Rachael Greene, Superintendent of the Stanley G. Falk School.
Several miles away in Buffalo’s Riverside neighborhood Anthony Carroll’s son Kayden typically waits nearly an hour for the school bus. He attends one of Buffalo’s charter schools. Kayden is in the second grade.
“As a parent, it’s very stressful. I’ve got to be at work,” said Carroll. “My son was stoked to go back. He wakes me up all the time and we go to walk up to the bus and it’s just not there.”
Carroll has since started driving Kayden to school, but says that’s not the solution his family needs. The Buffalo City School District declined to comment for the story, but they previously stated that families across the district should expect delays due to the bus driver shortage.
Statement from First Student : “We understand the frustration parents feel when there are service issues. At First Student, our goal is to always transport students in a safe and timely manner. The core of the issue is the national school bus driver shortage that’s impacting service across WNY and the country. We are covering as many routes as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to get students to school safely. We’re actively recruiting and currently have about 25 driver candidates in either classroom or behind-the-wheel training. We look forward to returning to a level of service the community expects of us, and we expect of ourselves, as soon as possible.“ Chris Kemper, First Student Spokesperson