Five Reasons School Bus Drivers Quit
published on November 14, 2017 by Sonia MastrosThe current shortage of school bus drivers is really a twofold problem. Part of the problem is recruitment, but the other part is in retention. School bus drivers have a turnover rate that's significantly higher than average - particularly when it comes to retaining drivers over the summer.
To do anything about this, a school transportation manager should understand why bus drivers are so quick to quit. While there has been little large-scale research into the problem, anecdotally we hear the same reasons over and over.
Understanding the Most Common Reasons School Bus Drivers Quit
1. Low Pay
We know pay hikes might not be in the budget, but that doesn't mean this one can go overlooked. In almost all cases, school bus driving pays less than comparable jobs that require a CDL - sometimes drastically less. Once they have their commercial license, they may get lured away by other better paying driving jobs.
2. Bad Hours
Another major issue for bus drivers is the hours they have to work. It's not just that they have to get up extra early in the morning. It's that the way their split shifts are scheduled means it can be extremely difficult to find a second job to supplement their income. This only compounds the "low pay" issue.
3. Few (or No) Benefits
Since most school bus drivers are only classified as part-time workers, they often don't qualify for benefits like health, dental, or life insurance. Or they'd have to pay in too much for it to be affordable. This is something more districts should look into - the low pay would be far more tolerable to many drivers if they at least got a good benefits package.
4. The Summer
If a driver is going to be effectively unemployed throughout a summer, that makes it far more likely they won't be coming back in the fall. Finding summer-only employment is difficult, and if they do find a job, they may decide they like it better than driving. Try offering to split up their paychecks over 12 months, like teachers get, to decrease the chances of this happening.
5. Lack of Administrative Support
Many drivers end up feeling downright unappreciated by management, or that they have no real authority to discipline the children on their buses. This is an issue, since disruptive riders are literally endangering themselves and everyone else on the bus. School management should give drivers more options to control the riders, and back them up if there's a conflict with parents over disciplinary issues.
Student Tracking Eases Bus Driver Burdens
Another way to keep your drivers happy is by making their lives easier!