Transportation services may become a challenge for Lake Travis ISD as the district continues to face a bus driver shortage heading into the 2021-22 school year.

This is according to an Aug. 2 letter from Superintendent Paul Norton to parents and guardians.

“Lake Travis ISD continues to experience a shortage of bus drivers,” Norton wrote. “As a result, there is a strong likelihood that we may not be able to provide the same level of transportation services during the coming school year.”

Parents and guardians will have until Aug. 6 to request transportation services from the district, and according to Norton, it is imperative they meet this deadline. This request will be made in the district’s “returning student packet,” which all parents and guardians must complete ahead of the upcoming school year.

As of Aug. 3, LITSD is facing a shortage of 28 drivers, Executive Director of Communications Marco Alvarado told Community Impact Newspaper. He said the district has been managing this challenge for years, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alvarado said the shortage of bus drivers is not unique to LTISD, which recently increased bus driver pay to $20.40 per hour. Nearby Austin ISD also increased driver compensation in 2020 in an effort to combat these shortages, per information from the district. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Plano ISD said the nationwide shortage of drivers was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last year, LTISD has advertised for new drivers, according to Alvarado. Experience is not required because the district will train all incoming drivers and assist them in obtaining their commercial driver license, which is a requirement.

Notably, businesses in the Lake Travis region have been battling similar staffing shortages for years, particularly in the service industry. Community Impact Newspaper previously reported the shortage is, in part, related to a lack of workforce housing and resulting long commute times for staff. Alvarado said LTISD faces a similar issue, and attracting out-of-town bus drivers to the Lake Travis area can be a challenge.

The district’s fleet of school buses consists of 82 buses that transport roughly 5,000 students per day. Transportation staff coordinates 78 morning and afternoon bus routes daily, according to information on LTISD’s website. If the district cannot hire additional drivers or if it receives overwhelming transportation requests from the community, it is possible some bus routes would be consolidated, Alvarado said.