AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Lake Travis ISD said it will cut routes as its bus driver shortage continues, despite implementing new recruitment efforts and increases in compensation.
Students who reside within a 2-mile radius from their home campus will not be provided transportation. The district said routes will be cut, effective the first day of school, which is Tuesday, Aug. 16.
Students who reside outside a 2-mile radius from their home campus will be provided transportation on a rotating schedule, meaning bus service will be provided one week on, one week off.
The district said they are currently 39 bus drivers short.
On Tuesday, parent Lani Arguello had to drop off and pick up her child.
"I work full time, so yeah ... I have been sitting in the car rider for an hour now both ways. Yeah, I love my kids and the school but I just wish we could get extra help," said Arguello.
An Nguyen has two kids that go to Lake Travis High school. She’s a single parent and relies on the bus to get her kids to school.
“I’m a working parent, and I work in Austin, and I don’t know how I’m able to manage the off schedule when the bus is not coming here," said Nguyen.
Brad Bailey is the assistant superintendent of operations for Lake Travis ISD, and he said the shortage of bus drivers has worsened over the past two years for several reasons.
“One of the things is, it’s basically where we are. A lot of people have to drive from the South Austin area, from Buda, places like that, Round Rock ... We’ve seen a lot of resigning, moving, moving out of the area, or moving or taking different jobs," said Bailey.
Superintendent Paul Norton said they are actively working to fill 39 spots.
"We understand the inconvenience, we don't want to be in this position," said Norton. "We are paying at the highest rate right now in the area for bus drivers, and so we highly encourage if anyone is interested in driving a bus, has a CDL, please let us now, and we will get you in the rotation to drive a bus for sure."
The district said bus schedules will be posted on the Lake Travis ISD Transportation Department website beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Multi-student households may not necessarily be assigned similar schedules.
“While this is not a popular decision to make, this is the most realistic option we can provide with the limited number of bus drivers currently on staff,” the district said in an email to parents.
Special services routes are not affected and will operate as normal.
Beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 10, parents may log into the SMART tag parent portal to determine if bus services will be available to their child.
“We sincerely appreciate your patience, understanding and support as we continue to do everything possible to safely and efficiently meet the expected increase in student ridership while aggressively addressing our driver shortage,” the district said. “Rest assured, we will continue to monitor our transportation challenges daily and look forward to restoring additional services as conditions improve.”
Anyone interested in driving a bus for LTISD is asked to contact the Transportation Department at 512-533-6070 or at email@example.com. No experience is needed. The district said it provides all training and full benefits, and drivers get holidays and summers off.
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