NEW YORK - Kids are now back in school for full-time in-person learning. But looming over the heads of parents, school districts, and bus companies across the country is the uncertainty of getting the kids to and from school.
"There is a national drivers shortage but it's certainly being felt in New York," said Corey Muirhead, the president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association, which represents 100 school bus companies across the state.
Right now there are about 50,000 school bus drivers in New York, he said, and he estimated that there were 15% to 20% more drivers before the pandemic.
In New York City, some parents dealt with busing hiccups on the first day of school Monday but the city's first deputy mayor insists it will all be resolved quickly.
"We do have enough staffing and we will reach out to every single bus company to make sure that they are addressing any parental complaint, any concern and we have a hotline to make sure we address those," Dean Fuleihan said.
However, for some districts on Long Island and in other parts of the state, Muirhead said the shortage is due to a number of factors. One issue is a lot of school bus drivers are elderly and more susceptible to COVID, and therefore don't want to be on a bus full of unvaccinated kids. He also said there's competition in the transportation industry and it's often a lot easier and quicker to become a truck driver than a school bus driver.
"Until we return to some semblance of normalcy, I don't see this getting better," Muirhead said. "Now that's not to say once the federal stimulus money goes out and more people return to the job force we'll see an uptick there."
FOX 5 NY reached out to the TWU Local 252, the union representing school bus drivers. A representative said the union's president is the only person who can comment or give us a statement, and that the president is out of town at a conference.