The Huntington school district bus crisis came to an end Thursday as Superintendent James W. Polansky said the bus transportation company had agreed to fulfill all aspects of its contract.
Polansky said that delays on routes that had plagued the system Thursday would continue Friday but that he hoped most problems would be worked out by next week. And he said that there would be no further interruption of service by the company, which had worked with the district for 62 years.
Huntington Coach Corp. had told the school district Tuesday that it would stop providing service to many routes as of Thursday and cease all service to the district as of Oct. 8. That short notice left Polansky and other school officials scrambling to find alternative services. Parents, especially those attending private schools at some distance from the district, began organizing carpools.
State Sen. Jim Gaughran said he had asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the company and he had notified the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul, which pledged to take emergency action to solve the problem.
Wednesday afternoon, after the district announced the company’s decision to not meet its contract, the bus company issued statement blaming the shortage of drivers for its decision to cease service to Huntington. At the same time, the company notified numerous other districts that it has contracts with that their service would not be interrupted.
There was no official explanation for why Huntington was singled out for the service cut or why Huntington was affected by the driver shortage and others were not. Company vice president Brendan Clifford did not respond immediately to questions.
Polansky said, “During the past two days, we have worked assertively to resolve the prominent issue associated with our contracted transportation service. I am relieved to advise you that we have now received assurances from Huntington Coach Corporation officials that they will, in fact, honor the terms and conditions associated with all existing contracts with the Huntington Union Free School District. There will be no interruption of services.
“The driver shortage is an ongoing issue and will need to be addressed within the industry and by school districts in general, until such time that it no longer exists,” Polansky said. “Beyond tomorrow (Friday), the district will communicate with families if/when delays are imminent on a given day.
“I’d like to thank those within and beyond our district who provided their support and advocacy as we worked through this matter in Huntington.”
The bus company, which is based in Huntington Station, had warned in July that it was short drivers and that districts might have to alter plans on some routes, especially for after-school service for athletics and other activities.
Bus companies around the country have reported a severe shortage of drivers as schools reopened this year after the Covid-19 shutdown.