BUS CUTS: Seattle Public Schools will suspend 142 routes starting Monday

(WSB file photo)

Seattle Public Schools has had transportation trouble since the start of the year. Now school-bus service is about to be slashed. The district announced today that 142 bus routes around the city – almost a quarter of its 600 routes – will be suspended as of Monday. The district says that on top of the ongoing driver shortage that its bus provider First Student has been experiencing, “More driver shortages are expected on October 18 when Washington state law requires all school district employees – including third-party contractors – to be vaccinated against COVID-19.” Here are the only students the district guarantees will continue to get transportation:

*Students receiving special education services whose IEPs specify transportation as a related service.

*McKinney Vento (families experiencing homelessness) and foster students.

*Students with a 504 plan that includes transportation services.

*Schools that serve large numbers or high proportions of historically underserved students.

*Schools at interim sites.

(That last point would include West Seattle Elementary, whose students are at the former Schmitz Park Elementary this year while an addition is built at WSES.) The district so far has not released a list of which specific routes are affected but says more than 6,700 students will be affected, and that families of students who use bus services will get an email before day’s end with information on their student’s route status. (Thanks for the tip on this!)

54 Replies to "BUS CUTS: Seattle Public Schools will suspend 142 routes starting Monday"

  • Jenben October 15, 2021 (4:12 pm)

    How is this legal? I was under the impression that providing transportation is mandated! What a nightmare for parents 

  • WSMom October 15, 2021 (4:12 pm)

    Unpopular opinion: Maybe it is time for people to go to their NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS instead of trying to get into option schools. Why is the district responsible for transporting kids fro all over West Seattle to go to Pathfinder or STEM when they could go to their neighborhood school?

    • WSdad October 15, 2021 (6:59 pm)

      Most of the bus routes being cut are neighborhood school routes. Should my Kindergartner just walk the 1.4 miles? 

    • Mrs P October 15, 2021 (8:31 pm)

      Our Fremont neighborhood school is deeply effected, with most kids living in the neighborhood or going to Boys and Girls Club. This isn’t about option schools being responsible for a strain on the system, WSMom. It about the vax mandate. Each neighborhood is going to have to come up with thier own community solutions until we can get the drivers back. Good luck parents!

    • Mom October 15, 2021 (8:37 pm)

      Pathfinder is closer to our house than our neighborhood school.  🤷‍♀️ Stem also.  🤷‍♀️ I get your point but I don’t think option schools that are losing all busing with almost no notice are to blame here.  

    • WS resident October 15, 2021 (9:33 pm)

      Do you think walking a mile to school daily is acceptable? Because that is the distance we are from our neighborhood school which we attend. In fact, it would be CLOSER to walk to a choice school. Get off your soapbox and stop making assumptions. 

      • Patience October 16, 2021 (8:42 am)

        Per the SPS transportation website, the acceptable walk zone/distance is as follows (no bus service provided unless they are a student that the district guarantees transportation – see list that WS Blog posted above):K-8: one mileMiddle school/High school: two miles

    • LisaS October 16, 2021 (7:11 am)

      Some students need different services or have  different learning needs that their neighborhood school doesn’t provide. 

  • S - in West Seattle October 15, 2021 (4:57 pm)

    Well looks like the Governor didn’t think through before pushing his Mandate on everyone. Next week is going to be bumpy buckle up. 

    • Anne October 15, 2021 (8:10 pm)

      Wasn’t there a bus driver shortage before the mandate? Maybe drivers should get more money/benefits? Maybe even though drivers are vaccinated- they’d rather not drive a bus full of 5-11 year olds that aren’t.

      • WSB October 15, 2021 (8:29 pm)

        As I noted above, yes, there’s been a bus-driver shortage, not just this year but in the past too.

    • Ben October 15, 2021 (9:56 pm)

      Maybe people should just get vaccinated?

    • Jort October 15, 2021 (10:21 pm)

      Get the shot or get fired, it’s not complicated and nobody is a heroic freedom fighter for being stubborn. It’s not complicated. The governor should have mandated this in January.

      • takethehighbridge October 16, 2021 (10:37 am)

        old man complains again. nice. it’s a shortage of people. it’s not complicated.  pay them more and there won’t be shortages. are you against that too?your entitlement is showing.

    • Jessica October 16, 2021 (9:57 am)

      Do you have an issue with background and drug tests as conditions for employment public education professionals? A little arm jab is far less invasive than a criminal background check. Get it into perspective j.o.b.s have requirements for employment & the root of this issue has absolutely nothing to do w vaccine mandate. 

  • Bill October 15, 2021 (5:37 pm)

    Clever that they tell folks on Friday that there’s no service on Monday. I suppose it’s better than finding out on Monday, but not by much. 

    • Patience October 16, 2021 (8:18 am)

      @Bill – actually, parents received notice a week ago (10/8) about the possibility of some routes being suspended.  I have attached a portion of the notice which instructs parents to contact their school if their family needs assistance. (To read more, click on link that WS Block included in this article)

      What should you do if your student cannot get to school without bus transportation?

      • We will be working with schools on a case-by-case basis to identify and address the needs of students who have no other way to get to school.
      • If this applies to your student, please contact your school.
  • Alki resident October 15, 2021 (6:27 pm)

    Because life isn’t hard enough for parents and kids right now. 

  • pagefive October 15, 2021 (6:44 pm)

    S, I don’t know a single parent who would want their kid on a school bus (an enclosed space with minimal air flow) with an unvaccinated driver. WSmom, by definition Pathfinder and Louisa Biden STEM are K-8 option schools and not neighborhood schools. It doesn’t make any sense to blame families for choosing option schools. Also, these schools draw mostly West Seattle families and they’re still not within walking distance. 

    • A parent October 15, 2021 (7:17 pm)

      I’m a parent and I have no objection to my child having an unvaccinated bus driver. You should diversify your friend group. 

      • pagefive October 15, 2021 (9:23 pm)

        I have been a public health professional for over 20 years. Along with my colleagues, I’ve worked the equivalent of two full time jobs for the past 19 months (no OT pay, mind you) to make sure my community is protected from the devastating impacts of COVID-19. I’m exhausted and, frankly, not at all interested in diversifying my friend group to include people who don’t believe in sound science and think that doing their “own research” is a legitimate substitute for trusting the judgement of infectious disease experts and immunologists who have made this their life’s work. 

        • mok4315 October 16, 2021 (12:22 am)

          How are they not giving you OT pagefive?! Is that legal? I’m in a similar situation, hours-wise, but my first job is almost alway automatically OT (we get time and a half for working on the water between 3pm and 7am), and my second job has no choice but to give me OT after 40 hours because I’ve repeatedly refused salary. I can’t imagine working an 80-hour work week without extra compensation…

          • Where’s my OT? October 16, 2021 (8:50 am)

            I teach. We have all gone above and beyond. Always have worked overtime and no pay for overtime. Nothing new and not illegal. Also, let’s talk about the sub shortage too. There’s always been a sub shortage. And it has nothing to do with the vaccine mandate. 

        • A Parent October 16, 2021 (9:20 am)

          Thanks for your resume…I’ll just point out that if you don’t form relationships with those who you disagree with, you won’t help anybody change their minds.The more hateful comments I hear, the more sure I am of my decisions.You might think you’re correct, but is your goal to be right, or to get people to get vaccinated?Right now, I don’t want to be like you, you’re mean.

          • Wavy David October 16, 2021 (10:56 am)

            @ A Parent. So there is nothing “hateful” about ordering people to get new friends because they disagree with you? And then ‘thanking them for their resume’ when they try to relate to you the hardship anti-vaxxers are causing healthcare workers, schools, and the community as a whole? Sorry friend, it must be awful to feel so victimized, even as 725,000 Americans are dead as of today (and counting). Please try to forgive the people trying to save lives by getting vaccinated. And try to forgive those parents who are trying to get their kids to school as safely as possible after having just lost their bus service. My sympathies for how they have caused you such grief. Peace.

      • Mariem October 15, 2021 (10:08 pm)

        @parent. Bless you and I mean that.  Deadly, easy to spread disease not concerning?  I choose science and facts and public health and safety.  

      • W.S. Daddy October 17, 2021 (9:28 am)

        You are the only parent I know in W.S. who thinks that,

    • also parent October 16, 2021 (8:42 am)

      I wouldn’t have a problem with my kids riding busses with unvaccinated drivers either.

    • S - in West Seattle October 16, 2021 (9:58 am)

      Last time I checked there is more air flow in bus’s then in a classroom. But hey I guess I wouldn’t know since I’m not in the Health Care field.  A parent is correct just because someone doesn’t have the vax it doesn’t make them bad person or not worth being a friend. It people like you that aren’t worth being friends with that have a single minded view. You should love everyone no matter there choose to get the vax or not.  

  • Aeh2021 October 15, 2021 (7:08 pm)

    A note to for others that may share WSMom’s POV: Our child DOES attend his neighborhood middle  school which is 4.2 miles from our home in West Seattle. This is not even close to a feasible distance for a 6th grader to walk to and from everyday. We’ve been tolerating and adapting to the already catastrophic bussing situation, but this is a new low for SPS to put the burden back on families to  “figure it out”. 

    • High Point October 16, 2021 (4:14 pm)

      SPS is not putting any burden on parents, it’s the bus drivers who refuse to get vaccinated. Be sure to place blame where it rightly belongs. 

  • Justadumbguy October 15, 2021 (7:45 pm)

    I at least hope the district gets some type of financial relief for the inability of First Student to provide the service 

  • Ron M October 15, 2021 (8:20 pm)

    It didn’t seem like a good idea to go back to in person learning in the first place with the Delta variant and now flu season here. It just didn’t seem like a good idea at all. Maybe it would be better to go back to online school until they can actually figure out a better way to handle the situation? I’m sorry to the parents that have to deal with this, also feel sorry for the kids going through this uncertainty.

    • Sam October 15, 2021 (8:34 pm)

      What? The schools have been working hard to track and manage Covid closely this year and it has not been bad. If you are suggesting closing schools because of the flu, well that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

    • ST October 15, 2021 (8:56 pm)

      As great as the teachers were, remote and hybrid school was terrible for working parents and young kids.  We can’t go back to that.  The answer is better pay/benefits for drivers.  

    • K October 15, 2021 (9:34 pm)

      With that comment, you presume that all parents can WFH, or don’t need a job at all.  That is not my situation.  I need to work, in person.  My child needs an education, in person.  The bus situation has always been a s#^t-show…even pre-pandemic.  Yes, it’s worse now…but the answer isn’t just to shut down school.  My child’s school has only had 2 known covid cases 1.5 months on.  I’ll take it!

    • bmc October 16, 2021 (4:28 pm)

      No way! Kids are thriving socially this year. Last year was a shxt show emotionally for many kids. Keep them open!

  • Ice October 15, 2021 (8:54 pm)

    Being a school bus driver is a pretty lousy gig from what I have heard. Bad, weird hours and not much pay. It’s no surprise people would just move on given the opportunity.

  • Cp October 15, 2021 (8:58 pm)

    I have no problem with buses. I live near schools and the personal vehicle volume is so high it seems like every student already gets a ride from their parents. It has been that way for the last 10+ years.

  • Canton October 15, 2021 (9:08 pm)

    Maybe the governor, shouldn’t have given a one result ultimatum,  and instead given the option of weekly testing. King inslee has drawn a line, he needs to deal with the fallback of his emergency royal declaration. I guess losing the presidential bid has him thirsty with power.

  • teacher October 15, 2021 (9:12 pm)

    A ton of money has been directed to schools through ESSER funds.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that funding transportation is allowable for some reason.https://www.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/public/bulletinsmemos/bulletins2021/B005-21.pdf

  • Kyle October 15, 2021 (9:21 pm)

    Where do all the taxes go in the SPS bureaucracy?

  • Mj October 15, 2021 (10:35 pm)

    Kyle – I think you answered your own question. 

    On another matter if my dad where alive he would tell stories of back in the day of trekking over 5 miles each way to school in grade school! 

    And Economics 101- is if there is a shortage of something, in this case commercial school bus drivers, the way to alleviate the situation is to increase compensation.

    • heartless October 16, 2021 (6:50 pm)

      I hate to agree with MJ, but he is absolutely right.

      If there is a lack of bus drivers, we probably oughta pay them more.  Simple as that.

      And as for people bemoaning vaccine mandates as they relate to this specific arena, two points: there was a shortage of drivers before, and, actually, it does seem kinda important to have people be vaccinated if they are going to be in enclosed spaces with children (who, as I might remind you, cannot yet be vaccinated). 

      Those few of you saying that such a decree is wrong (especially in this capacity!) continue to be morally bankrupt and/or philosophically deranged.

  • Yes2WS October 16, 2021 (7:08 am)

    Carpooling or chaperone rotations via city bus might be an option for some.

  • WSMOM October 16, 2021 (7:37 am)

    Vaccinate or get off the bus. This mandate should have been done BEFORE our kids were forced back to school.

    • reasonable October 16, 2021 (8:46 am)

      We think of it as our kids getting allowed to go back to school, rather than forced.   And as I understand it, no one is forced to go back, right?  There are online school options in WA state?You make it sound like you’re just drifting along doing whatever you’re “forced” to do.

    • Alki resident October 16, 2021 (9:06 am)

      WSMOM that’s a big NO. To each their own. This mandate is ludicrous. 

    • Buddy October 17, 2021 (5:20 pm)

      You said it! It’s like the cart before the horse! The mandate should have occurred as soon as vaccinations was available, just like a bureaucratic society, not thinking outside the box and having blinders on their eyes.

  • Mellow Kitty October 16, 2021 (8:17 am)

    I feel for the parents (I don’t have kids myself) – with everything else going on, this is just another sucker punch. It seems like our tax dollars are vanishing before they get where they need to go. Taxing people into poverty isn’t working – and even though taxes are raised constantly, fewer public services are available – such as reliable public transportation and decent roads (just two examples that come to mind).Hang in there parents ❤️REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER! Get those ballots in! 

  • S. October 16, 2021 (9:06 am)

    This is the additional cuts to bus service. Before the year even started they announced that high schools largely wouldn’t even have bus service. (Maybe ten or twenty kids at a high school got transportation, on two short buses.) That’s for two high schools in West Seattle, by no means were all kids within walking distance or had a good city bus option.

    • SkeeredOfScience October 16, 2021 (5:32 pm)

      Yeah, but this way the too delicate to wear a mask or get a shot crowd can blame Inslee.

  • Chickenwizard October 17, 2021 (9:32 am)

    We drove our kid to school, (often carpooling with another kid close by) since before the bus route was cancelled, it was an hour late for both going to and coming home.   Missing an hour of school and then have the kids wait an hour after school for a bus to show was totally unacceptable.

  • High Point October 17, 2021 (7:51 pm)

    Based on communication I received from my child’s principal, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that those most impacted by this either can afford to get their children to school safely without the aid of a school bus OR can financially support a PTSA sponsored option to help those less fortunate. Perhaps it’s time to shut up about the loss of a benefit and help with a solution. 

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