A late start: The statewide bus driver shortage’s effect on sports teams

The+driver+shortage+in+Massachusetts+has+affected+athletes+all+over+the+state.+At+WHS%2C+sports+teams+have+been+challenged+by+being+late+to+their+games.+%E2%80%9CI+dont+like+the+stress+of+waiting+for+a+bus%2C+knowing+we+will+be+late+and+then+not+having+sufficient+time+to+warm+up%2C%E2%80%9D+varsity+field+hockey+coach+Shelly+Fraser+said.+%E2%80%9CMost+of+the+time%2C+the+refs+are+really+pushing+hard+for+almost+no+time+to+warm+up.%E2%80%9D+

Tess Alongi

The driver shortage in Massachusetts has affected athletes all over the state. At WHS, sports teams have been challenged by being late to their games. “I don’t like the stress of waiting for a bus, knowing we will be late and then not having sufficient time to warm up,” varsity field hockey coach Shelly Fraser said. “Most of the time, the refs are really pushing hard for almost no time to warm up.”

By Nina Wilson, Wayland High School

To Wayland High School athletes, it seems as if every game is an uncertainty. Throughout the fall season, teams have struggled to find reliable transportation, and as a result, the athletics department has been forced to postpone or cancel multiple games. However, WHS is not the only school facing this problem. In fact, there is a statewide bus driver shortage in Massachusetts, affecting not only athletes, but all students looking for transportation to and from school.

The heart of the problem stems from a lack of drivers. Last year during online school and hybrid learning, many schools stopped running buses. As a result, bus companies were forced to lay off workers. Now that buses are in need, there are fewer workers available.

Athletics director Heath Rollins has attempted to combat this obstacle all year long. He has tried to get the buses on a reliable schedule, but to Rollins, it seems to be impossible to organize with no growth in the number of drivers in sight.

“We’re just trying to be on top of it and stay proactive,” Rollins said. “It’s rare that we get [the buses] to pull in at exactly 3:30 p.m.”

Rollins has found success through modifying the schedule of games. With planning ahead to see when multiple games will happen on the same day, the athletics department is able to work out a clear-cut schedule.

“If we know we need a lot of buses, we’ll move it to a different day to accommodate and prevent an issue instead of waiting,” Rollins said.

However, the issue was sometimes too difficult to solve. For the field hockey teams, a bus was an hour late to reach the WHS. The boys varsity soccer team had a game postponed to due a lack of sufficient transportation.

For the field hockey team, the effects are drastic. When games are pushed later and schools don’t have lights on their fields, the JV field hockey games are forced to end early. Varsity field hockey coach Shelly Fraser does not appreciate the uncertainty that the bus problem poses.

“I don’t like the stress of waiting for a bus, knowing we will be late and then not having sufficient time to warm up,” Fraser said. “Most of the time, the refs are really pushing hard for almost no time to warm up.”

The shortage affects more than just players and coaches.

“I felt bad for the parents,” senior field hockey player Sarah Liszewski said. “I know a lot of them [get to the games] at 4:00 p.m., [just for] our game [to not] start until 5:15 p.m. A lot of the parents work, so it’s such a waste.”

However, there seems to be nothing anyone can do to solve the driver conundrum. For now, students will have to continue to be flexible with time and maintain trust with organizers that they are doing all that they can.

“We are seeing it slowly get better, [but] there’s nothing instantaneous,” Rollins said. “We’re all just chipping away at it and trying to make the best we can of the situation. It’s a difficult situation for everybody.”

This story was originally published on Wayland Student Press on November 9, 2021.