MILWAUKEE — The first day of school for many Milwaukee Public Schools students and families brought stress as bus routes were canceled and delayed. MPS believes all of this stems from a major bus worker shortage.
For sophomore Claire Frank, she was excited to head to her first day of in-person learning since the pandemic at Milwaukee High School of the Arts. She woke up early and drove to the bus stop with her mom, but it never showed.
"Our bus never showed up. We were all left stranded," said Claire.
Claire's mother ended up having to drive her to school, but she says this won't work every day.
"My mother has our only car, we're a low-income family, we can't afford two cars or any other means of transportation," said Claire.
Parent Adam Terasek had to leave work early after learning his two high school boys weren't able to be transported on the bus as well.
"I went to this high school when I was their age, and I always took the bus. My son been going here for three years, and he always took the bus. So it kind of pulled out the carpet from under our feet without a warning," said Terasek.
MPS offered families public transportation bus vouchers, but both parents have safety concerns.
Christine Frank, Claire's mother, is uncomfortable having her daughter ride a public bus as it's something she has never done before.
"She would have to walk about four blocks from the bus stop to get to school, and in the morning it will start getting darker in the winter. I don't want her to be walking in a neighborhood she really doesn't know," said Christine.
And not to mention a 90-minute commute if she opted for public transportation.
"I am very far away from the school. Like I am in Bay View and school is over on Highland, so I don’t really have a way of getting here, especially the way my parents' work schedules are lined up. My mother has our only car, we’re a low-income family, we can’t afford two cars or any other means of transportation. I would have to take three buses and get up at 4 a.m.," said Claire.
Claire fears she may have to leave Milwaukee High School of the Arts if MPS does not come up with alternative solutions.
Terasek also is considering other school options as well.
"We're thinking we might have to pull them out of the school because of this," said Terasek.
In response, MPS released the following statement:
“Milwaukee Public Schools is aware that some families have been affected by transportation issues stemming from a shortage of drivers. The district has contacted families through phone calls, text messages, and emails as we work to ensure all students are serviced. Currently, MPS is continuing to communicate with impacted families to place them on routes with drivers while bus companies are temporarily assigning additional routes to current drivers. We graciously ask our families to remain patient as we diligently collaborate with the bus companies and schools to provide safe transportation for students.”