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Apple Bus facing driver shortage, Board of Education president threatens not to pay

The St. Joseph School District has partnered with Apple Bus Company since 2008.

Posted: Oct 29, 2019 9:02 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph School District Board of Education members say enough is enough with what they say is bad service from the bus company they contract with to transport students.

At its meeting Monday night, Board President Seth Wright threatened to stop paying Apple Bus Company if they don't shape up their act.

Wright said Apple Bus and their staff have been unreliable this year in pick-up times, drop-off times and other scheduled events.

He said kids are arriving late to school and they're not getting home until late.

"At the end of the day they're a business and sometimes you got to hit them in the pocketbook," Wright said. "If these problems aren't going to be fixed the only way I know how to do it and make sure they're going to get fixed is to say we're going to have to look at whether we should be paying you or at least all of your bills moving forward."

Nearly 5,400 students get to school every day by taking the bus. Officials at Apple Bus said they know they have a problem and they're trying to do their best, but they're understaffed and are looking for more bus drivers.

In a recent letter to the Board of Education, the company said this is one of the worst driver shortages they have faced in several years.

"Driving a school bus is a difficult job and there's more regulation around it than there ever was, and unemployment is at record lows," Apple Bus Vice President of Operations Jay Uchtmann. "Everything has just come together in a perfect storm that's made it really difficult on folks in our industry."

Apple Bus said they are currently six full-time drivers short. Apple Bus said a plan of action is in place to address issues in staffing, management and scheduling.

"We're just going to continue working hard as some of these challenges arise and I think we'll have things up and running smoothly quickly," Uchtmann said.

The St. Joseph School District has partnered with Apple Bus Company since 2008.

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A cool forecast is in store for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas this week. Fall-like weather will usher into the area Monday with highs mainly in the 60s and no hazardous weather expected through the week. The area could see its first frost Friday morning as the lows drop into the low-to-mid 30s.
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