Shortage of bus drivers reported in over 50 percent of the school districts in the U.S.


As schools have reopened in September across the nation, there is a huge shortage of drivers. Many parents are finding it difficult and expensive to send their kids to school as they sometimes have to use ride hailing services, when the school bus is canceled. It is not a shortage in a state or two but more than half the states in the U.S. are reporting that there are insufficient drivers available for schools.


A nationwide survey showed that more than 50 percent of the school districts in America reported that they were facing a desperate situation due to a “severe” shortage of drivers. Some of the reasons for the shortage included retirement by many drivers as a result of the pandemic. Some drivers were reportedly scared of returning to their jobs as they would have to have face-to-face interactions with kids who might be infected.


Other factors include low pay, inconvenient scheduling, and few benefits. These problems have existed even before the pandemic. Erratic schedules are becoming common due to shortages. Drivers are expected to drive multiple routes, so students have to wait a long time to board or ride in school buses. Students who had a 15-minute bus ride were now facing a 90-minute journey.


Chip Slaven, interim director for the National School Boards Association told the New York Times that the shortage of workers existed before the pandemic and that school districts have struggled in the past as well. He said that the problem was already there. It had just become from “bad” to “worse.”


Massachusetts deployed the National Guard to drive buses as the shortage was chronic and Pennsylvania is considering the same solution to face the shortage. Baltimore said that drivers are regularly calling to say that they are sick.


It is not easy to get a job as a bus driver. Potential candidates need a commercial driver’s license to operate a bus. The procedure to get such a license is long as it requires several months of training. Schools are not only facing shortages of bus drivers but are facing a crunch of other staff including substitute teachers and cafeteria workers.



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