Norway, IM deal with losing bus contractor

At least two area school districts were left scrambling for student transportation Wednesday after a bus contractor abruptly halted service on only the second day of the new school year.

Iron Mountain School District Superintendent Raph Rittenhouse said officials received word at noon Wednesday that R&A Transportation of Kingsford would immediately pull out of its contract for three bus routes.

“They did this without warning,” he said.

Rittenhouse met with R&A owner Rob Waliczek after receiving many complaints about delays on the first day of school Tuesday. He said Waliczek assured him the situation would be resolved.

“I never expected anything like this right away,” he said.

The district was able to have Lamers Bus Lines take over the additional routes.

“They came in right away,” Rittenhouse said, adding, “We are ending up with a more reliable service.”

He said R&A was unable to get enough staff to cover all the routes in Breitung Township and Iron Mountain.

“There is a real driver shortage,” Rittenhouse said.

He commended Lamers for immediately stepping up to help out.

“We are moving forward with a company with high standards,” he said.

R&A also covered two routes for Norway-Vulcan Area Schools District. No one could be reached with the district, but other sources said a past school bus provider was able to take over the routes.

The Breitung Township Schools District reportedly used R&A services as well but that could not be confirmed. Breitung Township Schools officials did not return calls for comment by press time.