School bus shortages causing problems for parents, traffic

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WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Parents are struggling to get their children to school and make it to work on time with the new school bus contractor for Maui schools still lacking enough qualified drivers for all routes.

Several bus routes continued to be temporarily suspended as all students returned to classes on Wednesday, the Maui News reported (http://bit.ly/2vVB859). Maui High and Maui Waena Intermediate schools have had some of their routes consolidated to help alleviate some of the issues,

The state Department of Education handed out free public bus passes to students who are affected by the shortage, but Mayor Alan Arakawa has said the county's Maui Buses cannot handle the influx of students along with its regular riders.

The school bus shortage is not only causing trouble for parents and students, it is also causing a traffic backup on West Maui roads, State Rep. Angus McKelvey said. He called the situation completely unacceptable, but with the Legislature not in session, the state representative said there is not much he can do.

McKelvey has asked Gov. David Ige for help.

"On behalf of all the hardworking parents and keiki of West Maui, I am humbly asking the governor to step in and have the Board of Education either issue a supplemental contract for the busing services at Lahainaluna High School, and any other areas, or rescind the contract in its entirety for failure to perform," he said.

The governor has already asked Department of Education officials for help, who have said they are doing everything they can to address the issue, according to a email Wednesday from the Ige's chief of staff, Mike McCartney. As far as cancelling the contract with Oahu-based Ground Transport, Ige's office said the governor does not have the authority to do so.

Ground Transport has 14 bus driver vacancies. It has not given the Department of Education a "concrete timeframe" of when those positions would be filled, said department spokesman Derek Inoshita in an email sent to the newspaper on Wednesday.

Ground Transport officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com


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