LAKE TRAVIS, Texas (KXAN) — Bus driver shortages are impacting parents across Central Texas.
Lake Travis ISD says it is short 20 drivers and has increased pay to $20.20 an hour. To accommodate the shortages, all routes have been modified, and some bus stop locations will be consolidated to main thoroughfares and subdivision entrances/exits.
The district has also suspended bus services in West Cypress Hills for West Cypress Hills Elementary and Bella Colinas for Bee Cave Middle School for the entire 2021-22 school year.
District officials said they’re using current drivers and transportation department office staff to help operate a second wave of pickups and drop-offs.
Several parents reached out to KXAN after receiving the below email earlier this month. Many of them said they missed the Aug. 6 deadline to request transportation services stated in the email below.
KXAN talked to several Lake Travis ISD parents, who did not want to be identified out of fear of retaliation by other parents or community members. One mother, who concealed her identity in our interview, said she’s scrambling for transportation options and battling double the amount of traffic she normally sees.
“It’s painful. We’ve never had this happen before; 620 was backed up in both directions,” she said.
She said what usually is a 15-minute drive took over an hour. She’s concerned about traffic congestion, safety and challenges getting to work on time.
“It’s going to be a mob, the traffic is already a mile long, and it’s blocking the oncoming traffic of people getting back home or work,” she explained. “People have to get to work, so I guess we have to call our employers and tell them we aren’t going to be there.”
The district said the Aug. 6 deadline was put in place, so it could start scheduling routes, drivers and students in its system early amid shortages. It says it is working every day to fill in the gaps, by developing more accommodations. The district does not foresee this lasting the entire school year.
“We’re utilizing our office staff, mechanics, anybody we can find on our staff — we are utilizing them,” said Brad Bailey, assistant superintendent for operations/Title IX coordinator. “So the next step, what we will be doing is evaluating the routes and number of capacities to see what additional things we can do to accommodate our riders over the next couple of weeks.”