Bus driver shortage leaves Lynn families in transportation limbo for another month

LYNN, Mass. — Hundreds of students in Lynn will be without transportation to and from school for at least another month.

The Lynn School District blames the dilemma on a bus driver shortage and a private company the district outsources bus services from called North Reading Transportation.

The announcement comes after hundreds more students returned to the classroom for full-time, in person learning earlier this month.

According to the Lynn School District, at least 680 students are impacted by the pause in bus services.

All of them are special education students who receive transportation through their Individualized Education Programs.

“My daughter is a single parent, and she’s struggling to get her kids to and from school right now,” said Kim, a Lynn grandmother. “They’re not on time, basically. It’s a struggle.”

Lynn Public Schools said its contract with North Reading Transportation typically provides the district with about 40 bus drivers.

“We spend millions of dollars on transportation. It’s really uncalled for,” said Lynn School Committee member Donna Coppola. “It’s a huge burden. Something we never should have put these families through.”

Coppola said about 18 bus drivers are available for the district to use right now.

However, she said ultimately Lynn Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler has opted to not use them due to an “equity” issue.

“He thought that maybe some of those parents driving are entitled to buses. I understand, but sometimes that equity thing just won’t work out,” said Coppola.

Coppola told Boston 25 News about 70 percent of the students impacted by the suspended bus services have been getting their own transportation to and from school.

“30 percent of those kids, who probably don’t have access to that transportation, are the ones who are suffering,” added Coppola. “I find that acceptable.”

Boston 25 News reached out to Superintendent Tutwiler but he has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Editor’s Note: The owner of the bus company reached out to Boston 25 News Thursday morning and claims the city hasn’t paid their contract since March 2020 so that’s why they had to furlough drivers. The owner of North Reading Transportation also tells us there’s currently a lawsuit against the city. We are reaching out to the city and school district to get their response.

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