INDIANAPOLIS — Washington Township, faced with a growing school bus driver shortage, is turning to longer routes and route changes to combat the issue.
According to the township, there is a need for 30 drivers to fulfill their need to have efficient and optimal routes for their school buses.
"I just want them to do better, I have been living in this district for years and this is the worst I have seen it been since I've been here," parent Latrice Owens said. "It's horrible because if my daughter catches the bus home and she has to work, she's not going to get to work on time."
Presently, the township has just 85 drivers and needs 115 to reach their goals. Since August 2022, the township claims to have lost 19 drivers due to a myriad of reasons.
Due to the shortage, Washington Township students are being forced into longer bus rides to and from school and the transportation department as a whole is faced with combining routes to make sure children make it to school on time.
Some parents told WRTV they've waited 40 minutes to an hour for the bus.
"I want a school year to come that where transportation is not an issue that we're having," Shawnta Barnes, who has twins in the district, said. "None of this is ideal but my question as a parent is what can we do to get bus drivers into Washington Township? Why do we still have bus drivers calling out of work? What is happening with the culture that is allowing that to still occur?
Moving forward, the township says they're are working on plans to make longer routes a more permanent thing as they cannot continue to plan on having their full 115 driver fleet.
The district says they aren't looking to change the order school's start, but they are looking into making the time between start times longer to give drivers more time to pick and drop off kids .
Right now it goes elementary school, high school, then middle school.
Still, the township is hopeful more will consider becoming a driver for them. They offer the third highest compensation for bus drivers in Marion County.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a bus driver, bus assistant, or garage technician, you canapply here.