New plan in works to solve Seattle school bus driver shortage

Ruby Heffter waits for her Seattle school bus (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE - A shortage of school bus drivers has left some kids in Seattle waiting at their stops for hours at a time, but changes are in the works to cut down on the delays.

Some buses have been running up to two hours late to pick up students.

But as of Monday, an additional 15 buses will be on Seattle Public School routes. The school district is contracting with Durham school buses for the extra help.

First Student transportation still has the contract with the school district for yellow bus service. But the problem is a nationwide shortage of bus drivers.

First Student has been down 15 to 35 drivers since Seattle's school year started, as many quit during the summer.

At 8 a.m. on a recent school morning, 11-year-old Ruby Heffter was waiting at her Brighton bus stop, when her dad got this voicemail:

"This is the Seattle Schools' transportation department calling to let you know that Route 467 to Washington Middle School is running about 40 minutes late this morning."

Once again, her school bus was late.

"It's not fun, because it's usually, it's getting colder, and there's a lot of people I don't know, and it's not a safe street," Ruby said.

School bus delays have been a big issue across Seattle this school year. On a typical day, a dozen or more buses are running late - some by up to two hours.

Many parents in the Seattle school district are getting daily recorded calls saying their child’s bus is late. Some have changed their work schedules to get their kids to and from school.

It’s not clear how long Durham's additional buses will be in service. The school district just announced the bus additions on Friday.

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