Student transportation provider First Student will assume 30 school bus routes initially awarded to Student Transportation of America (STA), after STA acknowledged it could not provide the district with sufficient drivers or buses to fulfill the terms of the contract awarded by Portland Public Schools in April 2021.
First Student has agreed to cover the routes for the entire school year, and shared with the district that it is ready to help assume additional routes as needed. In April 2021, Portland Public Schools split the school transportation between First Student and STA. However, the district does operate some special education routes. According to a press release from First Student, it has been the primary student transportation driver for Portland Public Schools for more than 20 years. The school district currently has 259 routes, which includes pre-k and continuing education for special education students. The district is working toward having 304 routes, but is suffering from a driver shortage.
Portland Public Schools Transportation Director Teri Brady told School Bus Fleet that First Student is only taking over the 30 additional routes this school year. Next school year, STA will pick up the routes again. It is currently recruiting new drivers to assume those routes.
Earlier this month, First Student also agreed to cover routes for Seattle Public Schools after Zum announced it could not provide adequate buses or drivers to fulfill its obligation to the district.