Here comes the bus?

Olivia Parker, seventh grader on All Stars, gets on the bus.

Tessa Gay

Olivia Parker, seventh grader on All Stars, gets on the bus.

Tessa Gay and Keira Riemenschneider

RCMS is experiencing bus driver shortages this school year. This is forcing Carson to merge 13 busses, or have multiple areas on one bus.

“We don’t really know if we’re going to be later to school,” said Naaisha Mahajan, seventh-grader on Dream Team.

Merging is when people from two different buses will be combined into one. Split buses are when half of one bus joins another, and the other half joins a different bus. The routes of the merged bus will change when this happens.

Carson is one of the FCPS schools with a shortage of bus drivers. According to Ms. Sybil Terry, Assistant Principal at Carson, we are about four to five bus drivers short. She says merges and split buses will generally happen about two times a week for each bus.

Neha Ranjith, seventh-grader on Dream Team, describes having two buses on one.

“It’s annoying, because normally we do one to a seat and it’s very nice,” she said, “but when it is two or three to a seat, it is very annoying.”

Occasionally, there are enough kids on one bus, that it is necessary to do three to a seat. According to Ms. Terry, this is rare, but still does happen.

Buses await students after school. (Keira Riemenschneider)

When asked about our ability to do three seaters with COVID-19 restrictions, she said, “Can we with the safety and rules? Yes. Do we prefer to? No.”

Where and why is this happening?

According to Ms. Terry, this is happening because of COVID-19 and not enough candidates.

“It is not just COVID, but we just don’t have applicants for the positions,” said Ms. Terry.

Carson has been similarly affected by the shortages compared to the rest of FCPS. Bus merging happens during both morning and afternoon and often unexpectedly. Ms. Terry said the school tries to inform affected families on the merging, but are sometimes caught by surprise. 

“People were running to get on the bus,” said Naaisha. 

What buses are affected?

Many buses are being merged. The pairs and groups of buses being merged are: 

  • 5 + 32
  • 1 + 2
  • 11 + 23
  • 26 + 31
  • 15 + 33
  • 14 + 3/20

According to Ms. Veronica Delaney, Office Assistant of Attendance, even if a bus comes late to school, the students would be excused, as it is not their fault. On the other hand, if a student arrives late to school through the Kiss-and-Ride, then the student will not be excused. So though there is a lack of bus drivers, Carson  wishes that students will take the bus instead of driving to school to prevent back-up in the Kiss-and-Ride line. 

“We encourage everyone to take the bus,” said Ms. Delaney.