Chicago Public Schools bus driver shortage continues, families concerned about student safety

Maher Kawash Image
Thursday, September 28, 2023
CPS bus driver shortage continues, parents concerned about safety
The Chicago Public Schools bus driver shortage continues to force CPS families to find alternate routes to transport students to school.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools' bus driver shortage has been causing headaches for CPS families over the last few years.

CPS told ABC7 that it's doing everything it can to make the job more enticing. However, for at least the rest of this semester, buses won't be available for general education students.

A letter sent out to families of CPS students Wednesday morning showed a grim outlook of the near future when it comes to getting students to school safely.

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Currently, most parents have to rely on the CTA or private transportation because of the severe shortage of CPS bus drivers. The district said it has more than 600 vacant positions right now.

"It's really a tough situation, and in this case, it is not just a CPS problem; it's not just an Illinois problem. It's a national driver shortage," CPS Chief Operating Officer Charles Mayfield said.

CPS said the recent rise in popularity of rideshare driving and other similar jobs have made bus driving less attractive, but they hope some incentives can change that thinking.

The district is raising the job's hourly wage by two dollars, meaning drivers would make between $22 and $27 per hour.

Louis Raymond is a parent of a second grader in the district, and he is upset with how CPS has handled the shortage from the start, saying it took too long to develop a plan.

"This has been a problem, and if you've known you've had a problem for three years... start planning," Raymond said.

Raymond has relied on parents of other students to carpool his daughter to school because of his busy work schedule, but that only works so often. The district does offer some vouchers and discounts on CTA, but safety and convenience is still top of mind for him.

"As much as I love the school and I believe my daughter is getting a lot from there, I have to now debate if I'm taking my child out of CPS," Raymond said.

CPS will look to continue advertising the bus driver job, asking anyone who may know someone interested to apply on the district website. Currently, they still don't know if they'll be able to provide bus service to all students by next semester.