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Bus driver shortages plaguing districts like Bullitt County ahead of school year

As far as the routes, most but not all students may be able to get door to door pickups, some may have to walk up to a mile to their stop.

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. — Bullitt County families are 28 days away from the start of the school year and the district is making changes to get students to class.

A bus driver shortage has resulted in doubled up routes and delays in the past.

“We want to look at what we’re doing and look at how we can make it better,” David Phelps, Bullitt County Public Schools director of transportation, said.

It is a problem many school districts are facing.

Parents of BCPS students like Charles Draper are hoping for solutions to the bus driver shortage before the new school year begins.

“I feel like everybody’s doing everything they can. I mean, you can only ask for so much. It’s not only just the school systems’, it’s the entire workforce,” he said.

Phelps said during COVID, he watched drivers retire or quit, not fully gaining their staff back.

"We would have had 127 drivers prior to COVID. counting all the occasional and substitutes, we're probably down really close to just under 100," he said.

Phelps said they had to change operations.

Credit: WHAS-TV
David Phelps, director of transportation, Bullitt County Public Schools.

"We have decreased some routes and combined some things. So we've been able to almost cover it with what we've got," he said.

Keri Cain, a parent, said she is appreciative of the drivers, but the shortage has proven difficult.

"They would send you a text, letting you know, the night before. But it was either you kept your kid at home, or you missed work to take your kid to school," Cain said.

Phelps says in years past a bus driver could expect to make around $16.50 an hour. Well, through new incentives and stipends coming about this year, they can now expect to come on just over $18.50 an hour.

Other districts like Oldham County even moved their schools’ start times to help accommodate for the shortage, something Phelps said they are only discussing.

As far as the routes, not all students may be able to get door to door pickups, some may have to walk up to a mile to their stop.

"If she had to walk to the entryway of that circle, I don't think that'd be a big deal. But if she had to go a few blocks or something in our world today, it would be concerning," Cain said.

Phelps says he hears these parents' concerns.

"Maybe they want it fixed worse than I do, but barely, I want it just as bad as they do. And we are doing everything in our effort to train and hire new drivers," he said.

As far as the bus schedules, Phelps says they are almost identical to last years.

The school year begins on Aug. 10.

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