MMSD’s new bus contractor sees turbulent first school week

Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) new bus contractor, First Student, saw a tumultuous first week of school amid a national bus driver shortage, The Capital Times reports. Buses ran as much as two hours late in the morning and following school dismissal on the first day, and later in the week, a bus failed to show up for over an hour at the end of the school day at Lake View Elementary School. Staff walked students home across Packers Avenue.

At Sennett Middle School, the principal drove some routes himself. On Saturday, when a bus didn’t show up to take the Memorial High School boys cross country team to a planned race in Milwaukee, the team had to compete in a tournament at Monona Grove instead.

First Student Regional Vice President Jason Kierna said they saw continuous improvements toward the end of last week, with 93% of afternoon routes on time last Thursday and 93.5% on Friday. Ninety-one percent of routes were on time on Monday morning. First Student has 103 drivers for the 129 twice-daily routes needed by the district. Kierna said they are about 30 drivers short of being fully staffed, but 16 new drivers are in training.

MMSD’s other bus provider, Madison Metro, is experiencing driver shortages as well.