Is There Really a School Bus Driver Shortage?
published on January 10, 2017 by Sonia MastrosSchool districts across the country are dealing with a critical bus driver shortage. This is not a new problem, but it’s an issue that is increasing in severity. In 2014, only 15 percent of school bus contracting companies reported no driver shortage. In 2015, all but six percent reported a driver shortage.
Severe Driver Shortage
Many professionals in the school transportation industry attribute school bus driver shortages to the extensive qualifications that school bus drivers must possess. There is little that can or should be done to change this, however, as the transportation of students requires training and the assurance of a clean driving and criminal record.
Some districts are combating the problem by embarking on public awareness campaigns that tout the benefits of the job. Flexible schedules and the ability to take children to work are two of these benefits. Other school districts and transportation management contractors are offering signing bonuses, attractive benefits packages, and other incentives to draw in and keep school bus drivers. For example, one Kentucky school district is offering an extra $2 an hour to relocating drivers with at least ten years of experience. Gift cards were raffled off as incentives by a South Carolina district for drivers who handed out recruitment cards for an upcoming job fair.
Unfortunately, many school districts are left doing the best that they can to cope with the shortage of drivers. This means that some are running routes twice, forced to return for more students, some of which have to wait for long periods for their ride to arrive. Students who live close to schools are seeing their routes cut entirely.
While there is no clear-cut solution that works for all districts, many are turning to technology to help them solve their problem. The installation of cameras and other security features is helping many districts to ease the minds of school bus drivers who may shy away from the student management aspect of the job. School districts are also relying on school bus transportation software to help them better manage their routes.
Sophisticated school bus route planning software is assisting transportation departments with the creation of routes that are optimized to best meet the needs of both students and the school district while also providing extensive driver routing reports, including route maps and turn by turn driving directions..
To learn more about the technology that is helping school districts deal with bus driver shortages, contact the team of transportation specialists at BusBoss. We’d be happy to discuss route optimization, along with the many tools that districts are using to keep students safe.
Is your school district facing a bus driver shortage? How have they dealt with the lack of school bus drivers? We appreciate your comments.