Improving Economy May Be to Blame For Shortage of School Bus Drivers in East Bay - NBC Bay Area
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Improving Economy May Be to Blame For Shortage of School Bus Drivers in East Bay

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    Districts in Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga are struggling to find enough school bus drivers because officials say private companies are luring them away with higher wages and better benefits. Elyce Kirchner reports. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016)

    The improving economy may be partially to blame for East Bay students not making it to school on time.

    The school districts in Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga are struggling to find enough school bus drivers.

    Officials attribute this difficulty to drivers being lured away by private companies that are able to offer higher wages and better benefits.

    Parent Kelli Schrader, whose children ride a school bus to and from Burton Valley Elementary School in Lafayette every day, says the service is a "complete lifesaver."

    Don Tatzin, who runs the Lamorinda School Bus Program, says the crunch is affecting schools nationwide. It's particularly bad in the Bay Area, though, because tech companies are snatching up available drivers. 

    The shortage "comes at a cost" to students as well as parents who are forced to "adjust their schedules when they get a notice at 6 or 7 in the morning that the bus isn’t going to run," he said.

    The problem is so acute that some East Bay school bus routes are no longer in effect or drivers arrive late ensuring that students are delayed too. 

    Officials fear that the last-minute scramble will force parents to find more reliable transportation for their children, which could lead to the cancellation of school bus programs altogether.

    "It would be devastating for the area," Schrader said. "I mean there are already major traffic issues around our elementary school and it would just impact all of that tremendously."

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