St. Louis district will pay families to drive kids to school amid bus driver shortage

Students board a school bus for their morning commute. (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The St. Louis school district is initiating a compensation strategy for families willing to drive their children to school amid a bus driver shortage. 

According to a letter detailed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and sent to St. Louis Public Schools parents on Monday, the district outlined its new transportation incentive plan. 

"We are excited to announce a new set of programs aimed at addressing the current challenges in transportation services," Toyin Akinola, St. Louis Public Schools' director of transportation, wrote in a Monday letter to parents, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

New incentives for driving students to school

Under this new initiative, families affected by frequent bus cancelations this school year will receive gas cards for the next two weeks. 

Starting May 13, all families who opt to transport their children can earn $75 for the last two weeks of the school year. Students must have at least one tardy or absence per week to be eligible for this incentive.

Response to transportation challenges and contractor disputes

This move comes in the wake of the Missouri Central School Bus Co.'s March announcement that it would end its contract with the district by the school year's end, following strained relations after a racist incident involving a noose found at a Black mechanic's workstation. 

The discovery led to a significant driver walkout, complicating bus services across one of Missouri’s largest school systems.

Missouri Central had sought an additional $2 million from the district in December to manage rising industry costs and the national bus driver shortage, which the district denied. In response to

The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.