Wake County schools is transporting more students with fewer buses this year.
The school district cut 70 buses from its routes—even while the number of riders jumped by about 1,500.
"Our transportation funding has decreased at the same time that our student ridership has increased," said Lisa Luten, a spokeswoman for the district. "And so those two factors really pushed us to look at our transportation and see how we could improve it. "
The general assembly's newly released budget, which will be voted on this week, reduces overall transportation spending for public schools by 5 percent. Luten says Wake began consolidating buses and stops in 2012 after years of difficulty in recruiting bus drivers. She says there are several reasons for the driver shortage.
"The first factor is pay," she said. "It’s hard for us to provide a competitive wage for bus drivers. And the second factor is discipline issues with our students."
The consolidation has created more crowded buses with longer rides. On the plus-side, the district says its buses are running more on time than in years past.