At Pittsfield Public Schools, routes have consolidated, meaning that trips take longer and fewer seats are available. Massini Bus Co. can cover the needs of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, but just barely.
The National Guard will now help students get to school in thirteen school districts across Massachusetts, after state public safety officials on Thursday announced an expansion of the program to also cover Haverhill, Revere, Worcester and the Wachusett Regional School District.
Amid a national shortage of school bus drivers, Gov. Charlie Baker last month activated the Guard to drive school transport vans known as 7D vehicles in districts that had requested help. The initiative began with four districts — Chelsea, Lowell, Lawrence and Lynn — and Baker at the time said the state would "try to serve as many communities as we can because obviously the goal here is to try to make sure if we have vehicles, we put people in them who are qualified to drive them and do what we can to make sure kids can get to school."
The National Guard is also providing school transportation support in Brockton, Framingham, Holyoke, Quincy and Woburn, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Baker's order made up to 250 Guard members available, and so far, the administration said that more than 190 members have completed the driver's certification process to operate the vans. Another roughly 40 Guard members are activated to provide operational support.