Utica Schools Ask Governor and National Guard to Help Solve Bus Driver Shortage
Utica City Schools Superintendent Bruce Karam is asking the office of New York Governor Kathy Hochul to help solve the district's transportation crisis.
Karam told The Post Standard | Syracuse.com on Wednesday that he sent a letter to the Governor asking for assistance from the New York National Guard.
As of this writing Superintendent Karam has not yet responded to WIBX's request for a comment.
The Utica City School Board met on October 19, 2021. About that meeting Hobika said that he believes that there is an opportunity for creative solutions but says that he was surprised by what he said as a lack of "intellectual curiosity." A special meeting was called at approximately 5:30pm, with the regular meeting beginning at 7:00pm. It did not end until 11:00pm. The debate during the meeting has been described by many as "heated."
Transportation services for the UCSD are handled by Durham School Services. The company, based in Illinois and operated by parent company National Express, have been serving the district since July. The UCSD announced in March that it would replace the contract with Birnie Bus Service.
On May 10, 2021 bus industry website SchoolBusFleet.com quoted National Express COO Liz Sanchez as saying, "Over the past year, due to driver shortages throughout North America, we have revved up our driver recruitment efforts and continue to do so to ensure all our customers are well looked after." WIBX has reached out to National Express for a comment.
Board Member Joseph Hobika tells "WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning" that the district needs approximately 130 drivers and currently has between 60 to 70.
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