FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Along with other school districts in northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne Community Schools faces challenges when it comes to bus transportation. Many factors come into play as to why buses are running late.

“We have had an increase of ridership this year, we have 2,800 more students than we had last year,” said Communications Manager, Scott Murray. “We have an increase in the number of students in our pre-k programs.”

In addition to the increased number of students, FWCS has more students who are displaced. Students can be homeless, buses pick those students up wherever they are. Fort Wayne Community Schools has added a number of career opportunities for their students, buses pick up students from the AMP Lab and Career Academy.

New this year the district started new bell times, involving a two-tier system.

“We take the high school students earlier then we circle back and we do another tier where we take the elementary school students at a later time,” said Murray. “This gives more opportunities for drivers to make more routes and more time in between those two routes.”

FWCS knows the frustrations are there but the district asks parents to continue to stay patient.

“As we work through our busing efficiency, every day we have our transportation staff adjusting routes, looking at routes,” Murray said. “We are really working hard to get your students home quicker.”

Fort Wayne Community Schools currently have 110 bus drivers, the district would like 10-20 more. They are looking at ways to get students to and from school. The district also wants families to know if you have called the transportation department and have not been able to get through, most likely the director of transportation and other staff are out driving the buses.

“We have some buses now that are smaller that don’t require a CDL anyone can drive it and come get trained,” said Murray. “We are also finalizing an incentive package for new drivers who have a CDL, employee performance bonuses.”

Some of those incentives for permanent drivers include a $5,000 sign-on bonus for new employees who already hold a CDL and are ready to drive a bus. There are performance bonuses for current bus drivers and bus assistants. Plus, FWCS employees who refer someone with a CDL and that person becomes a permanent bus driver, the employee will receive a $1,000 bonus.

FWCS is also looking to partner with Citilink where students can get a bus pass. A link to apply to be an FWCS bus driver can be found here.