Bus Driver Shortage Impacts SHS Athletes

Christian Pitten and James Tolton

Back to school–a time for students, teachers, and parents to get back to work. Well, kind of. This year, there’s one group that isn’t fully reporting back to work: school bus drivers. This may come as no surprise, especially as we enter into the second academic year of a worldwide pandemic. Over the past two years, we’ve seen unemployment numbers skyrocket, causing shortages in major industries. Now, the shortage can be felt a little closer to home. Over the past few weeks, a few SHS fall sporting events haven’t had available buses for the student-athletes to travel to their away games. So, what does this mean for SHS athletes?

New to Scituate High School this year, Athletic Director Scott Paine is working hard to amend the situation. Paine noted the pandemic is a major cause of the bus driver shortage: “When the government started issuing additional money for people when they were unemployed, those people were making more money staying at home than actually working.” Paine added, “People have gotten so used to staying at home that they don’t want to work.”In regards to the impact the bus driver shortage has on SHS athletes, Paine said, “There’s been a very significant impact.” He also noted that some SHS athletes “have had to drive themselves to games” and “some student-athletes weren’t able to attend their games because they couldn’t get a ride and don’t possess a license.”

Starting in October, SHS will have two additional drivers. “One of them is a retired bus driver from Cohasset who is going to come here to just do athletic trips,” Paine said. “The other driver is currently training to become a driver,” he added. Paine made it clear that in his opinion, the bus driver shortage will be solved–especially as we get closer to the winter sports season.

The scarcity of bus drivers has impacted athletes who are playing fall sports. Students at SHS are feeling the effects of the shortage by having to drive themselves to away games. In addition, spending their own gas money is not ideal for many high school students who may not hold a part-time job due to their commitment to their sport.

Senior Brendan Mankowich, who is a member of the SHS cross country team, said he didn’t like having to waste his gas money when he had to drive to Quincy for a cross country meet. He added, “I was very nervous being late.” Mankowich believes bus rides are beneficial for team bonding, commenting, “I like talking to everyone.”

Senior Sam Benning, a member of both the varsity golf and basketball teams, mentioned he hasn’t personally been impacted by the bus driver shortage; however, he’s seen many of his fellow friends and athletes impacted: “It’s seemed like the morale has gone down, a little bit of unrest,” Benning noted. He also mentioned that the golf team is using a school van–driven by the head coach–to get to their golf matches. Benning explained how usually the golf team will travel by bus; however, this year is different. When asked if team bus rides provide an opportunity for more team bonding, Benning energetically replied, “Yes, absolutely! In fact, the bus is the number one spot where our team has built chemistry.” Benning ended by saying he “definitely” enjoys traveling by bus better, and he hopes the situation improves going forward.

 The bus driver shortage is another difficult endeavor coming from the Covid-19 pandemic. While it continues to impact many SHS student-athletes, coaches, and parents, the athletic department is trying its very best to get the situation under control. Although it may look messy right now, it is clear that both students and administrators predict the bus driver shortage will come to an end as we near the winter sports season.