National bus driver shortage impacts school transportation


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A 3D rendered image shows a school bus driving on the country road.

There is a growing problem with transportation departments across the country. There are many positions to fill, but there is no one to do it. It’s become such a problem that many bus companies are showing signs of desperation. Whether that may be hiring parents of students, or even becoming more “relaxed” on the things needed to acquire the job to begin with.

The first way to fix an issue is to find the root of it. Using that reasoning, we have to find out why bus driving positions are so hard to fill. Why are they open to begin with? “Fortune” magazine states that an abundance of bus drivers were laid off during the early stages of the pandemic when most education was virtual. There was no need to have bus drivers, because there was no need to transport anyone. Now, when it comes to finding people to replace the old, it is becoming increasingly more difficult.

Hiring newer drivers has become such a problem that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is enlisting the National Guard to assist with the shortage.

“Hiring bus drivers has been difficult in the past few years,” MSD’s Director of Transportation Dan Gilman said. “However, in the past few years it has been difficult to find qualified applicants. We are not receiving the number of applicants as years passed.”

The main challenge that has been recognized by the board of transportation is the lack of motivated applicants, which is becoming more and more evident as time goes on.

“The main challenge is the lack of applicants. When you do contact applicants for an interview, they don’t show up,” Gilman said.

Finding a good way to encourage any possible applicants to apply is crucial to reach the end of the bus driver drought, either by offering incentives and sign-up bonuses, to increasing the overall pay rate.

“If a person wants a rewarding job with good pay and benefits, they need to apply,” Gilman said.

The situation has been rather bleak for some time now, but the entire Board of Transportation is persevering to transport the kids they care so dearly about. A profound question still lingers in the minds of many: Will there be a time where we can acquire more bus drivers?

“No, I don’t believe it will end any time soon,” Gilman said, “but I do believe that it will get better with time.”