Bus driver shortage continues to impact athletics


Katy O'Connell

On Oct 6, Algonquin student athletes board buses to travel to their games.

Amelia Sinclair, News Editor

A bus driver shortage has been impacting schools across the country, including ARHS, with fall sports teams at the forefront of this hardship. 

While ARHS uses NRT Bus inc. as their bussing company, the bus driver shortage is not unique to them and is a nationwide issue. The continuation of the bus driver shortage has forced teams to cancel or postpone games and meets. It has also meant that some teams now have to share the available buses with other teams.

Athletic Director Mike Mocerino fears that the bussing issues have the potential to carry into the rest of the sports seasons this school year. Mocerino held a more optimistic view when he was interviewed for the Harbinger in the spring of 2022.

If we can get through this successfully, then the future will be so much easier,” Mocerino said in his spring of 2022 interview.

However, according to Mocerino, the fall 2022 season has been impacted by the driver shortage even more than the spring season was. Mocerino has continued to work to adapt to the situation and find reasonable solutions. This has meant coming to terms with the uncertain time table attached to longevity of the bussing shortages.

“I take a day-by-day, week-to-week approach,” Mocerino said in an email interview. “There is no definitive answer on how to improve the challenges we all face due to a lack of bus drivers, and there is no timetable for something like this to improve.” 

Mocerino remains hopeful the situation will improve in the near future.

 “We hope that in due time the bus companies are able to fill our scheduled routes.” Mocerino said via email. “Until the situation improves, we will continue to adjust the schedule, make up any games that were postponed, play games at night if we have the capability to play under lights, shuttle teams if needed, and use private transportation if possible.”

Algonquin has not been alone in these challenges. According to a July 2022 Bloomberg Article, “America’s Bus Driver Shortage Has Left Transit Systems In Crisis”, a recent survey conducted by the American Public Transportation Association reports that 71% of 117 participating transit agencies had to limit service increases or cut some services altogether.

Mocerino believes the problems in the bussing industry are largely in part to American labor shortages.

“Unfortunately, there is a bus driver shortage across the state, and with the number of school routes and then the number of games on any given day, there are not enough drivers to fill the need,” Mocerino said via email.

The labor shortage has risen to rates America hasn’t seen in over two decades which presents problems that industries like transportation now have to address.

The bus driver shortage is only one example of the larger labor shortage in America. According to that same Bloomberg article, “The percentage of unfilled jobs is at its highest level since at least 2001, and the share of Americans in the labor force is near its lowest since the 1970s, according to Labor Department figures.”

Mocerino and the athletics staff have spent a lot of energy trying to control what they can in relation to the labor shortage and its impact.

[The bussing situation is] challenging, frustrating, difficult,” Mocerino said via email. “[We’re in] constant communication with the coaches, athletes, and families, adjusting the schedule, and/or implementing private transportation when needed. However, we cannot stress about what we cannot control and we must continue to focus on what we can control and that is to provide a positive experience for our student-athletes even when transportation complications disrupt our daily routine.”