Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the most recent data on bus ridership and bus driver shortages in LTISD.

Lake Travis ISD students who go 10 consecutive days without riding the bus will be dropped from the service in accordance with a district policy that went into effect Sept. 5.

The new measure comes as the LTISD works to provide bus services for waitlisted students amid bus driver shortages.

What you need to know

On Sept. 5, Lake Travis ISD announced that it would begin unregistering students who didn’t ride the bus for 10 consecutive days to make spots for students who are waitlisted.

Students may now be dropped from bus services beginning Sept. 19 and would need to reregister to regain access; however, newly registered students may be waitlisted if their route is at capacity, said Evalene Murphy, LTISD assistant superintendent for employee and community relations.

The district is asking parents to unregister their students for bus services on Skyward if they are no longer needed. While around 64% district's 11,000 students are registered for bus services, only 33% are riding the bus each day, LTISD Director of Transportation Paula Miller said.

The backstory

LTISD has struggled to provide consistent bus services for all of its students due to a shortage of bus drivers over the last couple of years, said Marco Alvarado, executive director of communications and community relations.

Last school year, the district reduced its bus routes to every other week for students living beyond 2 miles of their school. This school year, LTISD was able to resume daily bus service, but most students within 2 miles of their school are still ineligible to ride the bus.

The district increased its starting pay from $20.40 to $25.38 this school year, hosted a job fair, posted advertisements, contacted local colleges and looked in contracting with other businesses, among other initiatives to fill vacancies, district officials said.

Current situation

While the district has hired 15 bus drivers since the spring, vacancies still exist, Murphy said. LTISD currently has 57 bus drivers and would need to hire 10 to 12 more drivers to service students living inside the 2-mile boundary, Miller said.

Miller said the district is working to onboard four new drivers but does not expect to open new routes during the fall semester as it can take up to six weeks for drivers to obtain a license. LTISD will create additional routes as the district hires more licensed drivers, she said.

What else?

The district has provided responses to frequently asked questions from parents regarding the 2-mile bus service boundary and other transportation-related concerns.

Several parents expressed concerns and confusion about their children not receiving bus services at an Aug. 16 board of trustees meeting, stating they lived beyond the 2-mile boundary, noticed some buses were not at capacity and believed it would be unsafe for their children to walk to school.

“I can speak for myself and my neighbors that at this point, we feel like we don’t matter, we’re overlooked and that our children are just a number in the school district,” LTISD parent Crystal Bender said.

The 2-mile boundary varies based on a number of factors listed below, district officials said, meaning some students living within the boundary may receive bus services, while some living outside of it may not.
  • The nearest paved street
  • School bus-accessible streets
  • Intersections
  • The layout of neighborhoods and how they are split up
  • Proximity to routes
  • Safety
During the first few weeks of school, some routes were under capacity due to parents dropping their children off, while a couple were overcapacity from high ridership, district officials said. District officials said they expect ridership to even out over the coming weeks.

In their own words

“We want to make sure at the end of the day that we serve our families to the extent possible. We still ask for their understanding and patience,” Alvarado said. “We know that there are families who are not being serviced, and we're trying to do everything we can to hire additional drivers to meet that need.”