PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Monday was the first day of classes for Providence students, however, a bus driver shortage is forcing some families to find other ways to get them to school.
School administrators say there have been delays in picking up children who take Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buses.
Classical High School parent Melissa Hughes told 12 News the buses that typically go through the Elmgrove area have not shown up on time for two days in a row.
“We’ve been waiting at 7 a.m. just so we don’t miss it and not had a bus come,” she said. “We wait until 7:25. The first bell is at 7:40, so that’s a really stressful drive.”
The district partners with RIPTA to transport students to and from schools around the city. Administrators say they’re aware of the issue and working with RIPTA to find a solution.
RIPTA said it was short 31 drivers to start the school year and asked for the public’s patience.
“While we will do our best to cover all our scheduled service, we kindly ask for our passengers’ patience in the event that their service is disrupted,” RIPTA wrote in a statement.
The agency offered a short-term option, saying students can get on any bus – regardless of whether it goes directly to their school – then transfer at Kenndey Plaza.
But for some parents like Hughes, that is simply not an option.
“That feels very overwhelming for a 9th grader who isn’t as familiar with taking RIPTA on his own yet, and also none of those buses come down Elmgrove until after school starts,” she noted.
Hughes said the situation is frustrating and hopes some students aren’t left waiting.
“We’re lucky enough we can give him a lift to school if necessary, but some families don’t have that option,” she said.
RIPTA declined to comment on which other school routes are currently impacted.
In an effort to help with the driver shortage, RIPTA is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at its Providence headquarters at 705 Elmwood Ave.