CHICAGO (CBS) — On Tuesday, Chicago Public Schools bus drivers and riders will load up bright and early for day two of the 2021-2022 school year – and both groups hope it goes much more smoothly than it did on Monday.
A massive bus driver shortage is creating confusion and stress for parents. CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar talked Monday to one of the thousands of families who had to scramble to find a ride.
There are, of course, are always nerves and jitters on the first day of school. But this year, classes for CPS students and parents got off to a very rough start – as CPS is about 500 drivers short, and the driver shortage is being experienced across the country.
One of the students who encountered problems Monday is Isaac Lewis, who was finally back home in the afternoon after his first day of school.
“Now we’re back in school, but no bus showed up for him,” said Cincerlyn Lewis.
Ms. Lewis dropped Isaac off at Southside Occupational Academy, at 7342 S. Hoyne Ave. in West Englewood, before work Monday morning. But with no bus, Isaac was forced to take a Lyft rideshare home.
The trip was nearly nine miles and took about half hour.
“He did really good, but like I said, he is a special needs student,” Ms. Lewis said. “So I’m always worried if he gets the wrong driver; if things don’t go as planned, it could be dangerous.”
“I don’t really want her to have to worry about me or something terrible happening to me,” Isaac added himself. “I don’t want my family at all to have to worry about me.”
On top of the concern is the cost.
“So today, it was $36 from here to his school,” Ms. Lewis said.
On Friday, 73 bus drivers suddenly resigned – leaving 2,100 kids without access to transportation.
The district said the rush of resignations was likely driven by COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Families impacted by the loss of school bus service will receive $1,000 for the first two weeks, and $500 in following months to offset some of the costs.
“It’s chaos,” Ms. Lewis said. “It’s utter chaos.”
And with a tab of more than $70 a day round trip, Lewis is worried the money CPS is offering will only go so far.
“Having to put him in a rideshare two times a day is added stress,” she said.
The city says they are working on plans to use rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to help fill the bus driver shortage. But there are still a lot of questions, such as whether or not an adult will be in the rides to chaperone those students who are under 18.