HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s an issue being seen across the state, a lack of bus drivers. Nearly a dozen school districts have called for assistance and Holyoke is the first western Massachusetts community to get help.
The number of Massachusetts cities in which the National Guard has been called in to help take kids to school is growing. Holyoke is the most recent school district in need of bus drivers.
“We don’t have enough drivers to provide the service to our students.” said Acting Mayor Terry Murphy. He is working with the state after more than 190 members of the Guard completed the driver’s certification process last week to operate transport vans known as 7D vehicles across Massachusetts. The process includes vehicle training, background screening, and a review of all health and safety measures.
“I expect the busing companies to make sure that they are provided with the necessary training in terms of all the stops and how they have to handle them. I am very confident they will work well with the kids,” said Murphy.
It’s unclear how many guard members are coming to Holyoke but Mayor Murphy said we can expect quite a few in the next couple of days. The news comes after Baker activated up to 250 National Guard members Monday to help with school transportation in many communities in the wake of a long-running bus driver shortage because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ten schools districts, mostly in the eastern part of the state, now have help from the National Guard including Framingham, Quincy and Lowell. Boston public schools, the state’s largest school district, is not part of the expansion.
22News reached out to the Holyoke superintendent about the expansion, we have yet to hear back.