Bus driver shortage causes HVS to reduce service


Maddie Berendt

Huron Valley Schools buses parked in the lot at Milford High School.

Anthony Strominger, Staff Writer

It is no secret that there is a massive shortage of workers throughout many fields right now. Perhaps none are as apparent to Milford students as the current shortage of bus drivers. This issue started when Huron Valley Schools decided to start bussing students on a rotating schedule, starting on Sept. 27, and is scheduled to end in early November.

This resulted in students only having a bus ride to school half of the time. However, it is important to note that students living in certain neighborhoods still have full bus service.

Bus driver shortages are actually somewhat common at the start of traditional school years. However, it is clear that this year cannot be described as such, as schools across the country are still trying to escape the wrath of COVID-19.

COVID has shown to have more severe effects on older people, including much of the bus driving workforce. It certainly does not help that the average school bus driver is in their fifties.

Along with the low wages they receive, typically at about $15 an hour, it is no wonder why some drivers have decided to call it quits. All of these factors have made this current shortage the most severe it has been in a long time.

The drivers that have made the brave decision to stay do not seem to have the best time. According to Eric Dziobak, an assistant principal at Milford, many drivers are under a lot of stress right now.

“The drivers are stretched to their limits,” he said. This is mainly due to the fact that not only do they have to deal with the effects of COVID on their career, but they have to deal with the fact that many of their colleagues have left, and barely anyone is coming in to replace them. Because there are fewer drivers, the remaining drivers have to do longer routes, or even do additional ones.

However, the drivers are not the only ones suffering due to this change. Every student here at Milford and throughout Huron Valley that rides the bus cannot use it as often as they used to. Half of the population that rides the bus to or from school, ride on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday one week, and Tuesday and Thursday the next week. The other half ride on the days that the first group does not.

For students who have parents or friends available to drive them to or from school, this situation is not too bad. However, for many others, they may not be able to get to school on time, if at all on the days their bus route does not run. This may mean that these students fall behind more in their classes.

Thankfully, it seems like the Milford administration will not punish these students just for being late due to a lack of bussing. “It’s not a truancy issue,” Dziobak stated. However, just because the students will not be punished, does not mean that this issue does not negatively impact the administration.

Many of the members of the administration, including Dziobak, feel like without some of the students that use the bus at school, something is lost. Dziobak, in particular, felt like the missing students were like holes in the building. “We want you guys here,” he said.

The obvious solution to this problem would be to hire more drivers. However, it might not be that simple. Many of the reasons why some of the current bus drivers are leaving are also the same reasons why there is a lack of people waiting to replace them.

According to Dziobak, the transportation department is really trying to hire new drivers, but there is simply no demand for these jobs at the moment.

They have tried to entice people with higher pay, among other potential benefits, however it seems like nobody is willing to risk it. So does this mean that since this is the only real solution for the good of the district and its residents, that we will just have to wait until drivers are more comfortable?

Unfortunately, this seems to be the case. Dziobak seems hopeful that the issue will sort itself out by next year.

“It’s just a bad year,” he said. “But something’s gotta happen.”