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Parents feel 'out of options' as bus driver shortage continues in Western New York

According to officials at Elmwood Village Charter Schools, some buses haven't dropped off kids until as late as 6:15 p.m. That's three hours after they get of class.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A nationwide bus shortage does not exclude Buffalo. 

"We have run out of options," said Kelly Cardamone. 

Cardamone thought she could rely on an after-school program at Elmwood Village Charter School to watch her two kids while she and her husband worked.

A week before it started, she says her kids were waitlisted. 

She says instead of the original 120 spots, only 70 would be filled because of a staffing shortage.

"They weren't very transparent," Cardamone said. "I can understand that but if you would've told me and other parents that upfront, I probably would've tried to figure something out a lot sooner and now my hands are really tied."

The school hasn't clarified this. 

Cardamone says it was instead recommended she put her kids on the bus. 

"There's a shortage, they are unreliable. I also know parents who have shared stories that while they are at work, they have gotten phone calls that there is not a bus or a bus driver to take their children home from school," Cardamone said. 

EVCS officials send 2 On Your Side this statement: 

“Many families have been impacted by the bus driver shortage. When EVCS is notified by BPS transportation during dismissal time that a bus will be extremely late because they do not have a driver, EVCS reaches out to our families as a courtesy to give them the option to pick up their child rather than having a child wait for an extended period of time. We only require parents to pick up if we are informed that a bus is unable to arrive on campus at all. Students have waited for transportation until as late as 6:15 PM due to the driver shortage. Families can always choose to wait for the bus to arrive, as we would not expect families who are relying on bus transportation to leave work early to pick up their children.

EVCS does not receive any money for transportation and all funds for student transportation in New York State are allocated to the district in which the charter school is located.”

It's unclear how many drivers the charter school needs. 

On Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a statewide initiative to recruit more than 550,000 people with commercial driver's licenses to become school bus drivers.  

Parents say there instead needs to be a three-tier solution. 

"We need people to work and employers need to try to work with their staff. But also, the schools need to try to help and work with the parents because we're all trying the best we possibly can," Cardamone said.