"It's a nightmare:" Racine Unified parents dealing with transportation issues as school year begins

“It’s a nightmare: “ Racine Unified parents dealing with transportation issues as school year begins

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Tuesday marked the first day of classes for Racine Unified School District and so far bus pick-up and drop-off is causing some headaches for students and families.

Many parents say their child’s bus has been showing up as late as two hours after its scheduled arrival time, or not arriving at all.

“Simply nothing,” Harold Alldredge, parent of a Racine student, said. “No phone calls, no bus.”

There are also issues with bringing kids home.

“You don’t know if your child’s been taken, or missing, or got on the wrong bus,” Karen Nelson, grandmother of Racine student, said.

The confusion is taking a toll on some students, especially Alldredge’s son who is autistic.

“He’s very confused and frustrated absolutely,” Alldredge said. “He doesn’t understand why the bus isn’t coming.”

Racine is using a new bus company this year called First Student. The company says part of the problem is a nationwide bus driver shortage.

“We had about 30 fewer drivers come back after the summer and we need about 20 drivers right now to cover our routes,” Chris Kemper, First Student Spokesperson, said.

Right now First Student says they say are actively hiring new drivers, adjusting routes, and are bringing in a team of specialists, including experienced drivers, to help out in Racine in the meantime.

“The first few days of the school year have not been what parents or the community expects of us, nor is it what we expect of ourselves,” Kemper said. “Our goal is to make it better each day until we reach that level of service that we all expect.”

First Student is also working on an app that would allow parents and students to track the buses. The app should be available later in the school year.

Racine Unified School District sent CBS 58 this statement:

“RUSD is deeply concerned about the impact of these transportation challenges on our families. We are working to support First Student in addressing them as quickly as possible.

We sincerely thank the drivers who are showing up every day, putting in extra time and safely getting our students to and from school. We cannot express enough our appreciation for their commitment to serving our families.

I also want our school staff to know how much we value them and their willingness to put in extra time to support our students as well.”

-Stacy Tapp, Racine Unified School District Chief of Communication

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