About 300 students in Lewiston are without bus transportation due to a driver shortage. Credit: CBS 13/WGME

LEWISTON, MAINE  — An unrelenting bus driver shortage in the state’s second largest school district may only become worse before it gets better.

The school year is off to a bumpy start in Lewiston.

Two bus routes were canceled on Wednesday and Thursday, forcing about 300 students to find a way to get to and from school. The routes could be canceled again on Friday.

“This is the second day it hasn’t run,” said Dawnstar Anthony, who is now taking her lunch break to pick up her student in eighth grade.

“Thank god my job is flexible, so they do allow me to take the breaks, but it’s definitely an inconvenience,” Anthony said.

The district has condensed routes and shifted arrival and dismissal times all because of the workforce shortage.

“Unless we have more drivers, we’ve done everything we can do to minimize the disruption,” Lewiston Superintendent Jake Langlais said.

The district has lost three bus drivers as of the start of the school year, according to Langlais.

“I think we’re at a place right now where condensing more is not an option,” Langlais said. “So what else could we do?”

The district reportedly has an agreement with Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn to bus students, but that arrangement may have to come to an end.

It may reach the point where the district is telling families on the weekend that the bus route isn’t running for an entire week, according to the superintendent.

“It’s a bit sad to even have to say that, but I want to give families as much time as possible to figure out how they’ll get their kids to and from school,” Langlais said.

Langlais is urging anyone who may have been a bus driver before or just considering it now to reach out to Hudson Bus Lines.

“They have sign-on bonuses,” Langlais said. “They will train you. They will help you get everything you need to be credentialed to drive a bus.”

The superintendent said that it could take about 10 to 12 weeks before someone can actually drive a school bus.