DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- After sending out distress call Thursday night, available drivers scrambled to cover routes, Durham Public Schools (DPS) said in a statement.
According to a news release from the school, DPS Transportation leaders worked into the night to get bus routes for 23 schools covered Friday morning. DPS said bus drivers reworked their schedules and changed appointments to ensure students were safely driven to school. The uncovered routes would have affected more than 2,000 students.
"We are extremely grateful to our professional drivers for their acts of generosity and teamwork. We understand that rescheduling a day in one's life is a sacrifice. We also acknowledge the hard work undertaken by our Transportation department to make the appeal and deploy substitute drivers to make this morning's routes happen," said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, DPS Superintendent.
Transportation staff are continuing to work through the day to avoid disruptions in this afternoon's bus service.
The mad scramble started Thursday evening after DPS sent a message encouraging families on some bus routes to arrange alternative transportation for students Friday.
DPS says the delays are due to a bus driver shortage.
Shanice Toomer is one of the nearly 2,000 families who are impacted by this announcement. Her children are first year bus riders.
"My kids normally were car riders but the strain on gas was too much. So we made them bus riders. And now like, it's a hassle," Toomer said.
Parents like Susan Garner said delays and cancellations have a ripple effect.
"It would be terrible because expenses are going to be incurred, possibly losing a day at work, having to find a sitter," she said. "That would just cause a domino effect. And it wouldn't work out very well at all. It's ridiculous."
District spokesperson William" Chip" Sudderth said the district simply does not have enough available bus driver or substitute drivers. They need about 65 to 70 more.
"First of all, the most important thing is we're sorry, we are dealing with the same challenges and hiring and retaining bus drivers that other school districts and municipal bus systems like GoTriangle are experiencing," Sudderth said. " If more people are out sick or family emergency happens, or people are out for other reasons, there's not a lot of giving, and that is the challenge that we're having right now.
Durham Public Schools is heavily recruiting more drivers. Thursday the district announced they're offering cash incentives for monthly perfect attendance for drivers, referrals of new drivers, and signing bonuses.
" If there is a driver out there who has never worked for us before, who has their commercial driver's license in hand, and if they work for us, they're eligible for a $3,000 signing bonus. We need them. And our kids need them," Sudderth said.
The following buses may be delayed or unavailable: