UPDATE 9:30 p.m.:
HUNTINGTON, NY — Many Huntington school bus routes will be axed effective Thursday, Superintendent James Polansky wrote in a letter to the community. Huntington Coach Corporation, the provider, intends to cease all service to the Huntington School District after Oct. 8, the company wrote in a statement.
Effective Thursday, Huntington Coach Corporation will no longer cover as many as 42 morning and 34 afternoon routes to Huntington school buildings, Polansky said. The five contracts the company has with the school district are set to be abandoned after Oct. 8, Polansky wrote. Polansky said the district learned of the decision on Tuesday afternoon.
“While the company has apparently been impacted by the national driver shortage, the above-
described decision leaves us with extremely limited time to react in terms of securing an alternate contract or alternate means of transporting our students,” Polansky said. “At this point, we are putting forth best efforts to address the routes that will potentially be impacted this week. Affected families will be contacted via school district channels as soon as possible today.”
RELATED: State Takes Action To Address School Bus Driver Shortage
HuntingtonNow.com broke the story Wednesday morning.
Huntington Coach Corp., based in Huntington Station, said the coronavirus pandemic is the cause of the planned dereliction of bus routes in the Huntington School District. During the pandemic shutdown, which started in March 2020, and in the months since, many Long Island school bus drivers have changed careers or moved out of New York, the company wrote.
The Huntington School District will be the only district to lose Huntington Coach Corp.’s services, the company stated.
“We at Huntington Coach Corporation have done our best to maintain the drivers we have, and attract new ones, but the continued lack of qualified applicants and the time needed to get drivers trained, certified and vetted through the New York State and federal background check system have been daunting challenges,” the corporation wrote. “We have been hiring and training drivers at an unprecedented rate, yet still we have been treading water at best.”
The corporation said it is also affected by new coronavirus-related testing and vaccination requirements, which could lead to a “significant number” of drivers to walk away from the job. The company’s outlook on the driver shortage is bleak on the near horizon, it wrote.
“We have tried all that we can to get ahead of this problem, to no avail,” the bus company wrote. “As a result, we have sadly come to a very difficult business decision for which we have no alternative solution.”
Huntington Coach Corporation had serviced Huntington School District for more than 62 years and said it intended to do so for many more years.
“This decision is not made lightly … Unfortunately, the realities of a changing industry and workforce leave us no alternative.”