Athletic teams are being forced to find alternative transportation methods to games as North faces a severe bus shortage.
The sudden shortage of buses at North is a part of a nationwide issue. In a study conducted by the National Association for Pupil Transportation, over half of the surveyed districts reported their driver shortage as “severe” or “desperate.” At North, the problem has been compounded by multiple drivers resigning on the first day of school.
According to Athletic Director Mike Jackson, on the “First day of school, five drivers quit the day of, and we were scrambling to get buses,” said Jackson. “From that point on, it’s been chaos.”
Jackson added that the shortage may be attributed to COVID-19. “When school got back in, I felt that people were not sure about COVID,” said Jackson. “People haven’t gone back to work—we just hope that people get more comfortable so we can get our drivers back.”
To resolve the issue, Jackson said that several teams have arranged parent carpools. According to school policy, students may drive themselves but are not allowed to drive their peers. In addition, the athletic administration has discussed moving competitions to times when most buses are available.
Roy Dow, the boys’ soccer head coach, said that he values the combined support of families, coaches, and students. “We need to make this experience the best we can and the least disruptive as possible,” said Dow. “I know that everyone is making an effort to find a remedy to the situation.”
Dow added that teams need to be aware that the situation is still uncertain. “We may not know what’s going to happen on the day of a game,” said Dow. “There is some unpredictability going into this and we need to rally around it.”
According to an email sent out by Vice Principal Amy Winston, coaches have begun to reach out to athletes’ families to recruit drivers. Selected chaperones will have to fill out a series of CORI forms. Jackson added that the bus company has also attempted to hire drivers for North.
Junior Cadon Pelon, who plays golf, believes the issue impacts everyone differently. “My mom drives me because of COVID anyways,” said Pelon. “It may be hard for other people though, because if your parents are both working, you still need to get there somehow.”
Both freshmen soccer teams had their game delayed against Framingham Friday, Sept. 10 because their opponents did not have access to buses.
The situation not only affects North, but various school districts in Massachusetts. In some districts, the problem has become so severe that Governor Baker was forced to call up the national guard to transport students.
“Everyone knows this is a bigger problem than just Newton,” said Jackson. “It’s been all encompassing and we have been working with athletic directors around the league.”
Sophomore Freddy Jiwa, who plays field hockey, said that traveling separately also reduces team camaraderie. “It eliminates the bonding experience because if you celebrate a win, being on the bus together adds to the atmosphere—you’re missing out.”
According to Dow, the team hopes to navigate the circumstances while mainly concentrating on the present. “We don’t have an away game for a few weeks, but we will still discuss this,” said Dow. “It’s on our radar and we’re figuring it out, knowing that it’s not something we can really control.”