ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Nearly 100 school bus routes were canceled in Anne Arundel County Monday because of a bus driver strike.

The drivers with Annapolis Bus Company are demanding better pay and benefits.

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Anne Arundel County Schools said 25 buses were not on the road Monday morning because of the strike which impacted 98 routes.

The drivers tell WJZ they love their jobs and they want to get back to work, but not until their demands are met. They held a protest outside the office of Annapolis Bus Company.

“We need to be appreciated,” bus driver Joyce Ndow said. “We need to be understood. We’re professionals. We need to be treated and paid like professionals.”

They have written a list of demands that include better pay and benefits. They’re also worried about COVID-19 precautions and safety precautions in general.

“A lot of attendants get physically hurt and injured by kids and we don’t have a policy for that,” bus attendant Taaliyah Price said. “So, we’re just supposed to take it and endure it until we drop the kids off and pick them up.”

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Annapolis Bus Company is one of about 15 bus companies that have contracts with Anne Arundel County Schools.

The district tells WJZ that Annapolis Bus Company has been having driver shortage issues recently and that at least 12 of their buses do not run each day.

The company that owns Annapolis Bus Company, Student Transportation of America, said it is in contact with the drivers and the school district and hopes to come to a resolution soon.

WJZ also reached out to the Office of the Anne Arundel County Executive who issued a statement that says in part:

“Drivers, please know that your employers are also advocating for more funds in their contracts to pay you more. And know that parents and kids appreciate what you do. We need you. We don’t want to lose you. We will fix this.”

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The school district tells WJZ that they hope the drivers will return to work Tuesday.

Jessica Albert