‘A big mess’: Frustration grows as school bus driver shortage impacts students, parents in Maui

Parents are frustrated with the alternative transportation options the DOE is offering.
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 5:39 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 9, 2022 at 5:44 PM HST
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LAHAINA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent loss of school bus drivers leads several routes in Lahaina being cut — eight routes to be exact.

Parents are frustrated with the alternative transportation options the DOE is offering.

Trinity Peterson said her children’s school advised her Friday that her kids’ bus route would be affected.

“It’s been a big mess, to say the least,” said Peterson.

Her family only has one car, so they accepted DOE’s offer to pay for the Maui County Bus.

“It ended up taking them an hour and 20 minutes over the time and they’re already here at 6:30 in the morning,” said Peterson. “So, they’re not getting home until almost five o’clock in the evening so it’s kind of ridiculous.”

There is also a shuttle students can use which departs from the Wharf Cinema Center at 7:45 a.m.

“But still, that shuttle doesn’t start picking them up until school starts basically,” said parent Stephanie Espiritu. “So, they’re late to school and that can’t set you up for a good day.”

With so many more kids being driven in private cars, parents fighting traffic on Lahainaluna Road — which feeds three different campuses — can take 45 minutes to an hour while the buses arrive less than full.

“There’s plenty of buses, it seems like but they’re empty,” said Espiritu. “And yet there’s parents lining up here that would normally put their children on a bus.”

“Let’s get this thing fixed even by my money, by being flexible with schedules and filling empty seats, whatever it takes,” said State Rep. Angus McKelvey.

McKelvey wrote to the governor requesting emergency funding to hire bus drivers immediately.

We talked to the bus drivers themselves. (We) went to those who are on the front lines, as retired ones and they said in order to attract retired drivers back and possibly get drivers who have gone to other CDL jobs... (they need) to have bonuses and an increase in salary like other companies are doing to attract employees would probably get more drivers back again.

Peterson said a solution is needed immediately and invites fellow parents to take part in coming up with solutions.

In the meantime, Superintendent Keith Hayashi will hold a press conference next Monday at 1 p.m. to discuss a pilot program that will expand transportation options for high school students statewide.