Unpacking the ongoing bussing issue at RV

How the statewide bus driver shortage has affected school transportation 


Photo courtesy of Mr. Maniglia

Fewer drivers mean bigger delays for many students

Mya Collins, News Editor

The nationwide bus driver shortage has greatly affected school transportation with an ongoing struggle to find willing and certified drivers since before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. 

Affecting transportation for school activities and sports, as well as transportation to and from school in a timely manner, bussing routes have been combined to compensate for the lack of drivers. 

“The bus back home from school is very crowded and there are a lot of people, which makes it very uncomfortable,” freshman Joann Attobrah said. “Since the beginning of the year more people have been added to our bus, so it’s even more crowded than before.”

RV’s business administrators are working to handle bussing-related problems, but the lack of drivers ultimately contributes to unresolved transportation inconveniences. 

“Unfortunately the driver shortages started before COVID, but have now been exacerbated, [and] with the average age of drivers being over 60, many have retired or taken other jobs,” Business Administrator Lisa Giovanelli said. “RV has been working with the bus company to ensure that the students that require transportation are transported safely and efficiently with the limited number of drivers.”

Alongside the transportation struggle for bussing students to and from school, individuals involved in after-school activities like sports have been affected by the bus driver shortage. To relieve some of this struggle, the district does encourage staff members to obtain a Commercial Drivers license necessary to drive a bus to aid in transportation, which Mr. Pinto, an RV math teacher, has done.  

“I do have a lot of appreciation for Mr. Pinto, who takes the time out of his afternoon to drive us to the complex every day,” Attobrah said. “He makes sure everyone has a seat and those who don’t have to get off the bus. Normally the boys get on first which leaves the girls’ soccer team or the field hockey team [at school], and we have to wait for the second bus. Having to wait also cuts time from practice, which is not fair to the coaches or the players, but Mr. Pinto does help transportation a lot.” 

The transportation issues are not unique to RV as other school districts in New Jersey are experiencing bus driver shortages and have resorted to altering school-start time to stagger when buses are running from different school levels in their district.

“This will allow bus drivers to complete a high school run, followed by a middle school run, rather than both occurring at the same time,” a letter sent to families of Deptford High School students said. “With more drivers available, they will no longer need to double back for a second batch of students.”

Despite transportation issues, students are trying to be positive about the inconveniences and look on the bright side of the bus driver shortage. 

“I stay positive by understanding that everyone is going through something, our bus driver and even our school bussing program in general, and it’s important to still be polite and say thank you,” senior Emily Pierre said. “There are so many schools in the world whose bussing programs are much worse than ours, and there are schools that can’t even afford bussing in the first place. So with that, it’s important to be grateful for what we have because there’s always someone out there who’s less fortunate.”

The district continues to work alongside the Burlington County Educational Service Unit to provide transportation for students and help relieve some of the delayed transportation issues due to the lack of drivers.