ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The start of the school year is facing challenges with a shortage of school bus drivers across the country and throughout the state of New York.
A public transportation company in Rochester is stepping up in that community that is being hit particularly hard with the problem.
“There are times in life, things happen,” Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority CEO Bill Carpenter said. “This is one of these things. The community needs student transportation. We are going to do it."
Fresh off a special Board of Commissioners meeting, Carpenter said the decision for RGRTA to help became a no-brainer.
“The board has approved a change in the system," Carpenter said.
The company already provides public transportation for the city of Rochester, with plans to transport some 3,500 students. But in a vote by the board on Monday, the company authorized plans to move forward with driving an additional 3,877 students.
“If you are not a bus customer, you did not appreciate the impact that this change has,” Carpenter said. “Our customers will be impacted by this. But if we don't have our students in school to graduate, our community will be impacted.”
This comes in the midst of an eleventh-hour announcement that the city school district would not have enough bus drivers to get its students to school.
“One of my phrases is to wave a magic wand, everybody would have what they need,” Carpenter said. “But that's not the place where we're at right now. There's a national bus operator shortage. We're going to share this problem with the school district. We're going to take it on the chin with some of our customers.”
The vote allows the board to approve a temporary change to the bus company’s system that will allow it to negotiate with the school district.
“Every employee here that I've talked to is supportive of this change,” he said. “We're going to execute it extremely well, throughout the organization. Everyone's risen to the occasion. They understand the importance to this.”
Once details are finalized with the district, busses will begin to pick up students on September 13.
“I'm very excited to be able to provide this solution for the transportation crisis at the school district," Carpenter said.
RGRTA is asking its regular customers to please be patient. It is also asking employers of the bus riders to have some patience, as this transportation company believes that what it is doing is for the greater good.