HUNTSVILLE, Ala., (WHNT) — The COVID-19 pandemic created a shortage of school bus drivers in every district, including Huntsville city schools.  

The driver shortage has meant more routes for drivers to cover.

The route changes have also meant a longer time on the bus for kids. Parents started offering ways to improve the situation. 

One parent, Steven Cusack, says that after he sent numerous emails to transportation regarding his three children, Huntsville City Schools transportation administrators then sent a bus to his home for his daughter to alleviate the route issues.  

But he says that’s not exactly what he intended to happen.

“She was the only rider on that bus and so that was not the solution that I was looking for,” said Cusack. 

Cusack told News 19 that he took one look at the apple bus route schedule posted on the Huntsville city school website and saw that the morning bus arrived just after 6 a.m. for Challenger Middle School and knew that there would be an issue in getting children to school. 

“It was pretty limited to who gets bus service, and I couldn’t find out what standard of excellence they were expecting out of the bus route,” said Cusack.  

Roger Gray, a parent whose daughter also attends Challenger Middle School, says the bus route hurts and affects his child’s learning.  

“That didn’t make any sense to me because school starts at eight and so we weren’t going to use it,” Gray said. “We started talking to friends and family to figure out we are going to get our kids to school.” 

Both Gray and Cusack sent countless emails to transportation administrators about how poorly the routes are constructed. The bus trip home was just as bad for the 6th graders.  

The issue Huntsville schools’ operations told the parents, was that there just aren’t enough school bus drivers in the district.  

“When I later found out that Mr. Cusack went to the school board to talk about it in person to get more of a response, their solution was to give him his own bus… I couldn’t make sense,” said Gray.  

Instead of continuing to look for answers the Huntsville Schools director of operations, both Cusack and Gray offered to help by forming a transportation advisory council to help with designing future planned routes. 

“Hopefully they will implement that and be able to provide some advice rather than having the bus company held to the minimum standard of delivering the kids on time with no more one hour and a half on the bus for the kids,” said Gray. “I think we can do a lot better than that.”