Bus driver shortage causing problems for Long Island special education students

Dozens of special education students were left home on their first day back to school and others dealt with delays due to a bus driver shortage in Nassau County.

Robert Dillon, district superintendent for Nassau BOCES, says parents of just under 100 students in areas including Seaford, Jericho, Hicksville, and Wantagh have been left scrambling by the shortage.

"This is something that shouldn’t happen," Dillon said.  "We’re working with the families and where they can transport them."

It’s an issue that has impacted the majority of bus companies and students in schools across Long Island and throughout New York State.

RELATED: NYC first day of school: What you need to know for 2022–2023

A spokesperson for First Student says they are working to consolidate and resolve the routes. Drivers working to get their licenses are offered several thousand dollars in incentives and will be assigned as soon as they’re certified.

"We’re still seeing the effects of COVID," said Corey Muirhead, the past president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association. "We didn’t wave a magic wand and all of a sudden more drivers came in the workforce."

According to Muirhead, 80 of the private bus contractors he works with throughout the state are all experiencing some sort of shortage. 

RELATED: NYC public schools snow days are eliminated

Muirhead told FOX 5 NY that some drivers have retired while others have chosen to go to other companies like Amazon.

"It’s the "Amazonification" of the school bus industry where you have a similar job, work your hours at your leisure, without 55 kids, and you get to earn a comparable salary," he said.

To address the shortage, Governor Hochul has expanded the availability of road tests for applicants and launched a campaign to recruit additional drivers.