RIPTA buses will roll again Thursday for Providence high school students

PROVIDENCE – RIPTA buses will carry high school students to school Thursday morning following a disruption in service last week that left students scrambling to find other routes.

"We are communicating with the Providence School Department and have made improvements in how we communicate messages with students and parents regarding this service," RIPTA spokesman Barbara Polichetti said. "We also are in regular communication with the School Department and the governor's office."

Last week, dozens of students were stranded Wednesday after five school bus routes were canceled. Six routes were canceled the following day, affecting four Providence high schools: Central, Classical, Hope and Mount Pleasant.

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A couple of RIPTA street supervisors volunteered to drive the buses last week, and students were advised to take regular RIPTA buses to school.

RIPTA has 31 driver vacancies and attributed the staffing gap to retirements and difficulties recruiting new drivers.

Polichetti said the agency has hired four licensed drivers this month and five more are set to begin next month.

"They will start in our paratransit division, called RIde, which provides service for persons with disabilities and also has vacancies," she said. "Their hiring will not immediately impact driver availability for fixed-route service."

RIPTA will hold a job fair Oct. 12 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at RIPTA headquarters, 705 Elmwood Ave., Providence.

Linda Borg covers education for The Journal.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Providence high school students can take RIPTA buses to school again