FOLLOWUP: First day of fewer bus routes for Seattle Public Schools

As we’ve been reporting, a fourth of Seattle Public Schools‘ bus routes are suspended starting today because of ongoing and anticipated driver shortages. One foreseeable effect: More students on Metro buses. Jessica emailed us to say, “I was on the 128 bus this morning and it was filled to the brim with Madison students. All of the seats were full, and the students that were standing were packed like sardines. There was definitely no room to socially distance.”

We asked Metro what provisions they are making for this. Spokesperson Al Sanders‘ reply: “With last week’s notice from SPS we knew we might see an increase in the number of student riders starting today. We are monitoring the situation to see what adjustments could be needed for the riders.” Meantime, he noted that Metro has a post up for advice that might help new riders.

P.S. Families hopefully know this already, but for the record, the district’s webpage now lists the school-specific routes that are not running.

9 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: First day of fewer bus routes for Seattle Public Schools"

  • Allen October 18, 2021 (8:20 pm)

    The real reason of course is the vaccine mandate. Whether pro or con everyone must agree it means kids and parents are dealt a poor hand here once again by SPS.

    • CAM October 18, 2021 (10:20 pm)

      Nope. School bus drivers were put out of work when schools closed. They got other jobs that pay better and have not come back to drive the buses now that school is back open. This has nothing to do with a vaccine mandate. The drivers went on strike just a couple years ago over their contract if I recall correctly and they had a number of issues with how they are compensated that all sounded fairly reasonable. People need stable employment and income to support themselves and if the school bus companies don’t want to provide it than they are going to have trouble hiring drivers. 

    • 22blades October 19, 2021 (3:52 am)

      Actually, I don’t “agree” the cause is the “mandate”. SPS contracts out to a third party to deliver. They are unable to fulfill their contract because of a staffing shortage of qualified divers. There were a number of employment schemes out there to retain staff through this pandemic but most companies, including First Student, could only see their bottom line. First Student is not some mom & pop operation: “…with a workforce of 50,500 employees & a fleet of 44,009 vehicles, First Student  transports 5 million students daily.”

    • Why October 19, 2021 (11:57 pm)

      Why would you post this without knowing about this topic in detail?

  • Kyle October 18, 2021 (9:00 pm)

    First Student/SPS are using the vaccine mandate as an excuse for deep bus route cuts where the true root cause is a driver shortage. The real problem is a bad contract with First Student where the students suffer. SPS will say they contract out to First Student to “save money”. First Student tries to spend the bare minimum to make money. The students suffer. This is not a good use for government contracting because their is not enough competition in this area among school bus companies. 

  • Jon Wright October 19, 2021 (9:28 am)

    First Student didn’t have enough drivers before the Covid closure and there were some routes that were chronically late as a result. Over the past summer, Seattle Public Schools mooted cutting bus transportation to a bunch of schools for budget reasons. The vaccine mandate provides political cover and is win/win for First Student and the district: cutting these routes takes the pressure off First Student and SPS gets their budget cut. I really feel like the people in charge of Transportation at the district are completely inept. We’ve known about driver shortages for years but all Transportation does is shrug and blame First Student .

  • anonyme October 19, 2021 (9:32 am)

    Metro was not following Covid guidelines before the SPS bus change, and now buses will be more unsafe than ever – for everyone, including students.  Many riders do not wear masks properly, and some not at all.  There was a drug addict on the bus yesterday who kept nodding off and falling on the floor.  No mask.  But the drivers are the worst.  Many, if they bother to mask at all, do so only when a passenger boards.  They then pull the mask down to their chins.  And because distancing is no longer required on Metro (it was never enforced anyway) you can be pushed right up against a maskless and possibly infected individual with nowhere to go – except off the bus.

    • Brian October 19, 2021 (4:12 pm)

      Wow you were able to diagnose the person’s drug addiction right there on the bus? That’s very impressive. 

      • ohreally October 20, 2021 (8:28 am)

        Pretending to be blind to an obvious issue isn’t going to fix anything either.

Sorry, comment time is over.