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Bus Driver Shortage Forcing Philadelphia School District To Look At National Guard, Amazon For Possible Help

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A shortage of bus drivers is now prompting the Philadelphia School District to increase what it's offering to pay families if they drive their children to school. Families could now receive $300 per month to opt out of transportation services.

The school district's transportation shortage is forcing officials to look at drastic measures, even going as far as reaching out to the National Guard and Amazon for help.

Now that students in the Philadelphia School District have returned to in-person learning, getting them to and from school is presenting a critical challenge for the district.

"What we're trying to do is use all avenues that are available to us to provide for critical shortages that we're experiencing," Superintendent Dr. William Hite said.

A shortage of bus drivers is forcing the school district to consider any and all means within their control to get students to school.

They are further incentivizing parents to drive their children, if possible, by doubling the monthly flat rate they will pay each household from $150 a month to $300 a month. Only two weeks into the school year and they're already seeing student tardiness and delays.

"The unfortunate impact of this is that individuals are not showing up on time and in many cases, not being returned home in a timely fashion," Hite said.

Hite is enlisting the help of the state as the dire need for drivers is impacting the district, using Massachusetts as an example of a state now using the National Guard to transport students due to labor shortages.

"We actually made a call to the Governor's Office yesterday just to start the process of exploring what it would take in order to consider something like that," Hite said.

Hite is also calling on Amazon, who just announced on Tuesday that they will be hiring more drivers in the Philadelphia region, to lend a hand at a time when any and all resources are needed to get students to and from school.

"We're gonna reach out to them as well to see if there are ways in which they could support us getting children to and from. We're considering everything that's available to us," Hite said.

In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf's Office said: "The administration is aware of the challenges the School District of Philadelphia and some other schools are facing with hiring school bus drivers. States across the country are experiencing similar situations. We are working with the schools to evaluate the situation."

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