School districts in Detroit struggle to hire bus drivers

Posted at 6:53 AM, Aug 27, 2021

Nationwide we are facing a bus driver shortage. That includes right here ]]in Metro Detroit.

“We right now are approximately 40 drivers short,” director of safety and management service Utica Community Schools Brian Laporte said.

Laporte says the shortage of bus drivers has them thinking of ways to make the resources they do have, work.

“To manage our runs we’ve had to adjust some of our bell times, our start times for the day," he said. "Manage what runs we can get in at what times.”

However, they are not alone. School districts in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Texas are all reporting similar shortages.

One school in Delaware is paying parents $700 for each child they drive to school.

“It is hard to find people to even apply right now,” executive director for Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation David Meeuwsen said.

He says the pandemic is playing a role in getting bus drivers on our roads.

According to Meeuwsen, concerns range from having to wear a face mask on the job and feeling claustrophobic to feeling uncomfortable enforcing new COVID protocol.

“Making sure the kids wear their face coverings and put the sanitizer on their hands up the steps, those are extra steps that they didn’t do before and some of them said 'eh, I’m not comfortable making sure they all do that,'" he said.

Meeuwsen says schools are trying to entice drivers by offering better pay and benefits. Many districts offering paid training.

“We will train you. We will get you your CDL license. We will have you work with our trainers and get you prepared to get you all the testing you need to take. We will get you ready to drive a bus there is really no experience required,” Laporte said.

At the Walled Lake Consolidated School District drivers get a $750 sign-on bonus with a starting pay of up to $22 an hour.

The company will be holding a job fair next Wednesday, September 1.