DOE to suspend school bus service at 14 campuses amid ongoing drivers shortage
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A shortage of drivers has prompted the state Department of Education to partially or fully suspend school bus service to 14 Hawaii campuses.
The changes will take effect in the new school year, which begins Aug. 7.
Officials said the disruptions will impact the following schools:
- Aiea High, 139 student riders
- Campbell High (three of four routes suspended), 135 student riders
- Castle High, 60 student riders
- Kailua High, 25 student riders
- Kapolei High, 216 student riders
- Mililani High, 34 student riders
- Nanakuli High (routes for intermediate school will continue), 64 student riders
- Pearl City High, 204 student riders
- Waianae High, 167 student riders
- Waipahu High, 115 student riders
- Kapaa High, 40 student riders
- Kapaa Middle, 81 student riders
- Kapaa Elementary, 76 student riders
- Hanalei Elementary, 51 student riders
The changes come a little more than a week before the kickoff of the new school year, giving parents little time to prepare. The state Education Department says they are trying to mitigate the impact by providing students with subsidized bus passes.
“For the city we look forward to new lifelong customers. Students are a great introduction into public transportation,” said Roger Morton with the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services.
One of latest schools losing service is Waianea High School with concerns already coming from city and state lawmakers.
“In the west side of Oahu, we have some of the highest truancy rates in the state. So any more barriers that we create for folks to access education, they’re going to find every excuse not to attend,” Said State. Representative Darius Kila.
Officials said routes on Maui and Hawaii Island have been modified, but will continue.
Routes on Molokai and Lanai will not change.
DOE Assistant Superintendent Randy Tanaka said in a news release that the shortage of drivers is nationwide, and added the changes ― largely impacting Hawaii high schools ― will allow services for special education and younger students to remain unchanged.
“I expect some criticism and some of that but we will work through it,” said Tanaka. “There will be sacrifices on everybody’s part.”
The DOE characterized the changes as temporary, but did not say when the suspended routes would resume. Officials said the DOE is short about 230 school bus drivers.
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