After Bus Shortage, Glenbard Turns to Alternative Modes of Athletic Transportation 


Photo Credit-Ash Erlach Unsplash

The pandemic has brought many unique changes to schools. One very unusual sight this fall sports season are athletes riding in charters, and teachers driving school buses.

Ciara Johnson is a sophomore volleyball player who has been transported in different ways to get to games this season. 

Our first away game we were told that there weren’t enough bus drivers to get us to the schools; therefore, we had one of our own teachers go pick up a school bus to take our varsity and freshman B team,” said Johnson. “Also our JV team and sophomore team had to take both Ram vans. Finally, our freshman A team had to take the Driver’s Ed. cars to get to the school.” 

All around the country, school districts are struggling to provide their students with bussing. Bus drivers are in high demand, but due to the pandemic, employment has fallen. 

Glenbard’s primary source of bussing is the company First Student. They provide the yellow school busses that students take to school and to extracurricular and athletic events. But because of the driver shortage, First Student cannot provide for all of Glenbard’s needs as they usually do. 

“Throughout the pandemic, the service industry in general has been hit hard by people leaving the workforce. Unfortunately, bus drivers fall into this category,” said Dwayne Bates, East’s athletic director. “Overall, First Student is doing the absolute best that they can to fulfill our bussing needs and we truly appreciate their efforts during these challenging times in the industry.”

To compensate for the shortage, Glenbard has used coach buses, Driver’s Ed cars and Ram vans. 

“We start with affording First Student, whom we are contracted with, an opportunity to confirm needed team charters,” Bates said. In the event they cannot confirm, we utilize other modes of transportation upon availability. It really depends on the day to day availability of the bus/transportation company and the athletic teams we have scheduled for that day.”

Although there are enough ways for athletes to get to games and meets, the golf team must be transported to their practices as well. This year they are responsible for getting themselves to practices. 

John Polyak is a junior on the boys golf team. He has reported that many of his teammates have had a hard time getting to practices. 

For golf meets, we used either Ram vans or Drivers Ed Cars to travel. For practices and home meets, we needed to find our own ride, which for many meant driving themselves or relying on parents to drive,” said Polyak. 

Teams that have more athletes are prioritized over golf when it comes to bussing. They don’t have to scramble when getting to games. 

“The larger team sports, like football or soccer, get priority, but that is mainly because they have larger teams. They also do not face the challenge of having practices and meets off of school grounds, meaning that transportation is much more important for those sports,” said Polyak. 

Some teams were lucky enough to take coach busses. These buses are more comfortable and provide a more enjoyable experience. East uses the company IDEAL Charters when they are out of school buses. 

IDEAL Charters is the next primary transportation company we utilize,” said Bates.

“Personally I think that it’s super cool that we get to take these Coach Buses there. They are definitely more comfortable and there’s more space,” said Johnson.

Sukki Kazmi is a junior on the cheer team. They once got to take a party bus to an away football game. 

“It was a very fun experience and the whole team had a lot of fun,” said Kazmi. 

Although having charters for athletes is just a solution to the shortage of drivers, many would like for this to continue after the driver demand decreases.  

“I think it’s just a cool experience that we get to go through which makes it more fun,” said Johnson, “I would definitely love to take them in the future.”