School bus driver shortage leaves students crossing busy intersection

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A mother of an Albuquerque middle school student is concerned for her child and other children’s safety. She said they have to dodge traffic on a busy street to get to school with no crosswalks or no crossing guards to help them. Albuquerque Public Schools said the main problem is they’re dealing with a bus driver shortage. Now, the mother hopes the district can figure out a solution soon.

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Cars are constantly passing by at the intersection of Unser and Blue Feather on Albuquerque’s west side. If you’re trying to cross, you might have to wait a while before the road is clear. “They don’t slow down and they go around you and there’s not a lane for them to go around so, God forbid, someone’s trying to do something nice and let a child cross and someone gets impatient and goes around them,” said Nicole Vazquez, who lives nearby.

Vazques said the busy intersection is what students in her neighborhood have to cross every day to get to James Monroe Middle School without a crosswalk or crossing guard to help them out. There was a bus route that used to pick students up in Vazquez’s neighborhood but not anymore because of the bus driver shortage.

“I know there’s a bus shortage, I know there’s not really anything we can do about that but something needs to come up to get these guys to and from safer,” said Vazquez. APS said most of the six bus contractors the district works with are experiencing staffing challenging but Herrera Bus Company is seeing the most significant staff shortage. In early August, Herrera told APS it still needed 39 drivers. Herrera primarily serves west side and South Valley schools but because of the shortage, 27 schools in those areas have been impacted.

Vazquez is hoping the district will come up with a safe solution before someone gets hurt. “I mean anything, a crossing guard to help this but I know it’s a little crazy but I’ve seen police officers in front of the school in the morning with their lights going, put one here, put one as a deterrent to slow them down,” said Vazquez.

The City of Albuquerque manages school crossing guards. KRQE News 13 asked if they would consider putting one at that intersection but they said only elementary schools having crossing guards. APS said they’re pulling everyone off the bench to help with the bus driver shortage, including mechanics. They said right now the priority is getting drivers for students with special needs.

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