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Bus driver shortage has some families turning to rideshare apps to get kids to school


By Erin Hassanzadeh

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    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A severe shortage of bus drivers means parents are finding other ways to get their kids to school.

But some of those options could have negative consequences.

WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh spoke with parents about the struggle, and lengths they’re going to to get their kids to class.

“The past two days I’ve gotten a call, gosh, probably 20 minutes, 25 minutes before his bus is supposed to arrive saying there is no driver,” said April Rachuy, a Minneapolis schools parent.

Rachuy’s son Preston is a third grader at Jenny Lind in north Minneapolis.

The past few mornings the school has told her the bus would be two hours late to pick him up.

Rachuy is a teacher in Minneapolis so she’s already gone by the time she gets these calls.

“My neighbor has been super gracious and wonderful and has been taking both her child and my child to school because as a single parent I don’t have other options,” said Rachuy.

Not everyone has a neighbor like Rachuy’s. But many do have rideshare apps and they’re using them.

“I’ve had a couple of parents trying to get me to take their younger kids to school,” said rideshare app driver Ryan Stanzel.

Since school started, Stanzel sees it every morning.

“I’d say the 7:30-9 timeframe is really busy and we do definitely see people who are trying to take rideshare to school,” said Stanzel.

But before you call that ride, you should know companies like Uber and Lyft say you have to be at least 18 to ride solo. And if drivers take someone younger than that it can be bad news for them.

“Rideshare drivers get fired on the spot if they do that,” said Stanzel. “A, it’s a waste of time and B, it’s just an awkward situation when you’re trying to ask somebody how old they are.”

Things are so desperate in some cases that families are willing to give kids the VIP treatment to get them to class with Chey Eisenman’s private car service.

“Over the last week every single morning our phones have been blowing up, my text messages, with people wanting us to fall out of the sky and take their kids to school,” said Eisenman. “On an average day we’re getting somewhere between 20 and 30 calls just within that hour.”

But of course most don’t have that luxury, and don’t have other options.

“Having to quickly go to plan b and c is really frustrating and overwhelming,” said Rachuy.

Uber says if it gets a report of an underage rider, it could boot the driver or account-holder from the app.

Lyft urges its drivers to let the company know if unaccompanied kids try to catch a ride.

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