CHICAGO (CBS) — The excitement to catch the school bus is quickly becoming a nightmare for hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students.
Their buses either do not show up, or arrive after the students are supposed to be in class. And as CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday night, a lack of drivers could be to blame.
It has been a stressful start to the year so far for CPS student Aidan Hughes. For the past two days, his Sunrise bus – which takes him from his home in Beverly to his new, transitional Southside Occupational Academy – has either not shown up or been really late.
“He had to be at school at 9. I got home at 9:30 – the bus was pulling up,” said Aiden’s mother, Mary Fahey-Hughes. “And he was supposed to have been picked up at 8:15.”
The same goes for Aidan’s ride back home. His mother said the busing uncertainty is especially difficult for people like Aidan, who have autism.
“When a child with autism, for example, is expecting the bus to come and then they don’t show up, it’s really heart-wrenching to watch how dysregulating that can be,” Fahey-Hughes said.
The busing backlog is not just a South Side problem.
“It’s like, raise your hand if your bus didn’t show up today,” said Laurie Viets.
Viets lives in Portage Park on the Northwest Side. Her son’s bus did not show up Tuesday either, and he also has special needs.
“CPS and the busing companies should all have several months to figure this out,” Viets said.
Viets and Fahey-Hughes, who is also the special ed parent liaison for the Raise Your Hand advocacy group, said they tried to call Sunrise and got nowhere.
They are hearing a bus driver shortage may be partly to blame. CBS 2’s Kozlov spoke with someone who works in CPS’ transportation department, who said they are hearing the same thing and are getting dozens of calls about the issue.
But CPS cannot confirm the reports of a shortage because they can’t get a hold of Sunrise either.
So Kozlov went to Sunrise directly. Nobody at Sunrise would comment on whether there was a shortage or provide a name or number of someone who could – and they told Kozlov and her crew to leave the premises or they would call police.
Thus, there was no insight Wednesday night about how Thursday morning might go.
“It’s a huge issue,” Viets said.
Kozlov also reached out to a CPS representative Tuesday afternoon to get some clear insight into what the problem is and what the district and bus company are doing about it. Other than questions about when her story would air, Kozlov had heard no answers as of Wednesday night.
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