Lack of bus drivers means longer commute for students in North Pocono School District

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MOSCOW, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — North Pocono School District is facing new issues as they start school Monday morning.

The shortage of school bus drivers, which some are calling a national crisis, is affecting us here in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

Aaron Sepkowski owns Pocono Transportation, one of the bus companies for North Pocono School District.

He said the shortage began pre-pandemic for reasons like heavy regulations, heavy driving requirements, and above all, the pay.

“The money. It all boils down to the money. School districts are strapped. State government is strapped. It seems like we invest our money into other things other than the things that matter,” said Sepkowski.

John Pagotto has three kids who go to school within the North Pocono School District.

He says each of them take the bus.

“The public school and bus transportation is very important and underappreciated, but we appreciate it a lot,” said Pagotto.

“With not as many busses on the road, drivers might think ‘Well, there won’t be as many buses, traffic should be lighter… Not so,” explained Kathleen Zinszer, spokesperson, AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Even though all the students in North Pocono will be picked up, AAA says the impacts of the shortage will trickle down from the bus company to those on their morning commute.

“They may be on the road earlier or later than you’re used to. With less drivers, you may have drivers starting a lot earlier to pick up the same amount of kids with one bus. You also have to consider instead of riding the bus, you may see more kids walking to school,” said Zinszer.

She also says more parents may opt to drive their kids to school, creating more traffic on the roads.

“Eyewitness News is being told no matter how limited the number of bus drivers may be, at least for here in the North Pocono School District, no child will be left behind.”

AAA provided the following statement in a news release:

“In addition to the typical increase in traffic that occurs at the beginning of each school year, the school bus driver shortage means buses taking longer routes, students waiting at bus stops for longer periods of time and more parents opting to drive their children to school,” says Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “While the return to school and our roads will look different this year, our responsibility for keeping students safe hasn’t changed.”

AAA information including tips on back to school safety.

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