As CPS struggles with school bus challenges, parents claim they're facing heavy commutes

Chicago Public Schools is once again dealing with a shortage of bus drivers, and one parent group is ratcheting up the pressure on the district to solve the crisis.

"This is crippling families," said Katie Milewski with CPS Parents for Buses. "There are some families that travel six hours on CTA in order to get their kids to and from school."

Milewski said 5,500 CPS students at magnet and selective enrollment schools are still "on their own" this year to get to and from school. 

Rajiv Haque drives his 11-year-old daughter from Lincoln Park all the way down to Mount Greenwood and back each day.  

"I'm driving her and I'm driving another kid that doesn't have any transportation, too, just because he's on the way. Right now, it takes 3.5 hours out of my day," said Haque.

What's more frustrating, they said, is that some of the school buses in service are more than half empty.

"There's a complete efficiency problem. We want them to optimize those seats," said Milewski.

CPS acknowledges the problem and is trying to nearly double the number of drivers employed by the district. 

District transportation officials took part in a recruitment event Wednesday on the Southwest Side to get more drivers.  They are looking for 600 more drivers to go with the current 704.

"Across the city, across the nation, we are experiencing a driver shortage, which is impacting our ability to transport all of the students who require it," said Chi Chi Wonuigwe, CPS Director of Transportation Diverse Learner Supports.  

"We need the bus drivers," said driver Consuela Brown.  "It's a great opportunity. Great job. It's basically like being your own boss."

"CPS has a responsibility, even if they say they don't have to guarantee it anymore, to get our kids to these schools," said Milewski.

CPS Parents for Buses spoke before the CPS Board again and said the board president has been welcoming of their feedback and ideas, and that they're hopeful for a solution in the near future.