PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of Providence students were left without a direct ride to school Wednesday morning as the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) continues to struggle with a driver shortage.

The agency said a “critical shortage of staff necessary to maintain daily transportation service” has caused numerous disruptions to its daily bus routes, including those that both pick up and drop off students across the capital city.

Those disruptions were made apparent Wednesday when students from five different high schools were left waiting for buses that never showed up. This left many scrambling to find a ride to school.

RIPTA acknowledged the blunder, saying the five routes had been canceled hours before.

In a statement, the agency said from now on, it would start regularly providing 6 a.m. updates on any morning school trip cancelations and 1:45 p.m. updates on any afternoon school trip cancelations “to prepare students for a disruption in their service.”

In order to address the overall staffing shortage, RIPTA said it needs to hire more than 30 bus drivers. The agency said it’s working to offer incentives for new hires, including competitive salaries, full benefits and additional time off.

The district partners with RIPTA to provide rides both to and from school, with more than 4,500 students relying on the service to get around. Students who attend Alvarez, Central, Classical, Hope and Mount Pleasant high schools do not have their own bus services and rely solely on RIPTA.

“When these school trips are not available, students can ride any available RIPTA fixed-route bus to Kennedy Plaza and then transfer to a route that serves their school,” the statement reads. “RIPTA will have outreach staff in Kennedy Plaza to assist students.”

The outreach staff will be wearing bright yellow RIPTA vests, according to the agency, so students will know who they should be asking for assistance navigating the bus terminal.

Here are some potential routes students can take from Kennedy Plaza in the morning when special school trips are unavailable:

For Central High School, Classical High School and Providence Career & Technical Academy students

  • R-Line (10-minute frequency)
  • Route 17 (30-minute frequency)
  • Route 18 (30-minute frequency)
  • Route 19 (30-minute frequency)
  • Route 20 (15-minute frequency)
  • Route 22 (30-minute frequency)
  • Route 31 (15-minute frequency)

For Hope High School students

  • Route 1 (20-minute frequency)

For Mount Pleasant High School students

  • Route 55 (30-minute frequency)
  • Route 92 (20-minute frequency)

For E-Cubed Academy students

  • Route 58 (60-minute frequency)

For Alvarez High School Students

  • Route 22 (30-minute frequency)

For Paul Cuffee School students

  • Route 20 (15-minute frequency)
  • Route 22 (30-minute frequency)

RIPTA encouraged students who rely on their transportation services to use its online “Trip Planner” to help them make their way home from Kennedy Plaza in these circumstances. Students can also call RIPTA Customer Service at (401) 784-9500 ext. 2012 for assistance.