CARMEL, Ind. — It is back to school for kids in Carmel Thursday, Aug. 12, and the trip to and from school will be dramatically different this year.
Considerably fewer will take the bus to get there. It's all because of a severe shortage of school bus drivers that districts across the country now face.
Carmel Clay Schools recently announced the creation of "no bus zones" to address the problem. The goal is to help ridership. Students who live less than a mile from school will have to walk or bike unless it means crossing a busy road, such as Main Street near Carmel High School.
The school district has been working with the city of Carmel and police on enhanced safety measures.
That includes adding more signage around schools and up to nine mid-block signalized crosswalks, with rapid-flashing beacons.
Plans also call for having school personnel staff crosswalks and increased police patrols around schools to monitor and deter speeding.
According to a district spokesperson, nearly 2,900 fewer students will take the bus this year. That includes 1,670 students who were not offered bus service because they live in "no bus zones" and 1,200 who opted out voluntarily.
District officials are asking drivers to be especially patient and cautious as they encounter a lot more kids walking or biking to school. And given the bus driver shortage, they don't expect things to change anytime soon.