Where are Our Bus Drivers?

Bus drivers are going missing, and students are paying the price.


Bus drivers are going missing, and students are paying the price.

Isabella Perez, Reporter

At 7:30 in the morning most kids are awake preparing for the dreadful school day. By the time they’re at the bus stop, they think the hard part is over. Unfortunately, they’re wrong, and will have to wait in the cold dawn or rain for about a half hour to an hour for their bus to arrive late. Best case scenario, they get to school before first period is over.

For several years, parents have been left in the dark wondering why this is happening to their children. Maybe their driver had gotten sick and needed a substitute, but there are no substitutes. Maybe traffic was particularly bad that morning, and the tardiness was unavoidable. Maybe, somehow, their bus was early due to an irregular schedule, and they had just missed it. Plenty of things can contribute to kids being unable to get to class on time, but there’s not enough going on to fix this problem.

From elementary to high school, lots of students use the bus as their sole transportation system. Their parents have jobs and can’t make time to get their kids to and from school. This reliance on buses can affect them both in a variety of negative ways. Like less sleep, from having to get up extra early to make the bus. Or bad grades, from missing vital class time. Fortunately, some schools offer a tardy label of “bus delay” that prevents students from getting unnecessary tardies if their buses are late, however this isn’t applicable to every school.

So why the lack of drivers? Incredibly unreasonable pay, most notably. The average salary for a bus driver in Kissimmee, Florida is $34,904 a year according to salary.com. They are barely making it over the poverty line in terms of American standards, which is about $30k, and will most likely need a second job. There are other disadvantages, too. The lack of movement for hours on end leaves them in bad shape, and the responsibility of about 50 kids is left in their hands. Not to mention the overall undesirability of a job where you sit and drive all day. Nobody wants to take this role on, and it has left students in the dust.

One of these students include Dina Santiago, a creative writing major from OCSA. In an interview, she goes into detail about her experiences with the school bus system. She said, “There has been multiple times where it’s been extremely late, from 40 minutes to an hour. It has also been a couple minutes early which made me miss my bus.” She’s definitely not alone in her bus-traveling troubles.

In my own experience as a student who lives in Saint Cloud and goes to school in Kissimmee, it’s about an hour drive both ways. There was a time where my bus driver was absent, and I had to go on a completely different bus for lack of a substitute. I ended up getting to school at 9:35, when school starts at 9:10. At the end of the day, the bus arrived at school at 4:40, and I ended up getting home at around 6:30. School ends at 4:10. To say I was tired was an understatement, and I had little to no time to work on homework or other responsibilities before bed.

Change is needed, and so are bus drivers. We also need our education officials to pay extra attention to the state of our bus system, like more benefits and more desirability. Without it, a crisis may be in our future as students.