Anchorage School District could suspend bus routes due to driver shortage

A sign outside the Anchorage School District’s bus depot advertises open bus driver positions. Without enough drivers, the district may have to suspend some bus routes. (Katie Anastas/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School District could suspend some school bus routes this fall due to a shortage of bus drivers.

In a message to families Wednesday night, Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt wrote that the district is currently 75 bus drivers short. Typically, the district has 228 drivers. The school year starts in just two weeks.

District operations director Rob Holland said district leaders are discussing their options.

“We’re starting with the basic premise that we will be delivering all of the special-ed routes, and we will push out from there with a focus on the most vulnerable levels of the population,” he said.

One option could be to prioritize bus access for the youngest students, but Holland said district leaders are considering a range of factors. He said the district could also reduce the number of stops along bus routes, which would allow drivers to pick up more students on each trip.

The district is offering both new and current bus drivers up to an extra $2,500 and bus attendants up to an extra $500 for the first semester of the school year. 

School bus drivers are required to have a commercial drivers license, and Holland said the district provides a paid, three-week training for interested drivers.

The district plans to post updates on potential changes to bus routes online. Job applications are also available on their website.

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