Bus Drivers Needed

Bus driver shortage impacts transportation

PHOTO

Jackie Ozanich

Freshman Brantley Cole gets on the crowded school bus.

Jackie Ozanich, Reporter

Every day, thousands of students rely on the school bus to get to and from school. This year, specifically, transportation has become a problem, due to the surplus of students streaming into our schools and the bus driver shortage. 

We have the buses, and we have the budget for the average cost of ridership per student a semester ($184.89), we just don’t have enough drivers. According to  the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Generally, they [the average school bus can] fit three smaller elementary school age persons or two adult high school age persons into a typical 39-inch school bus seat.” These regulations are in place to keep kids safe while on the bus.

The Columbia Public Schools (CPS) district is experiencing such a shortage of bus drivers because of the pandemic last year, when many bus drivers had to rely on a different job for their income. The district is trying to get more bus drivers, with ads up near schools, a pay of $16.25 an hour, and by offering training to new hires. Yet, the shortage persists due to safety concerns and lack of benefits. 

Some Battle High School buses have to have students ride three to a seat, and extra students have to sit or stand in the aisles. “I was half hanging off the seat because I’m the last one to get on,” Adrian Gibbs, freshman, commented. 

Students and parents do what they can to help the problem, but the bus is heavily relied on for transportation, and it can be challenging. “I drive around several students, so they can avoid that type of situation on the bus. It’s ridiculous,” junior Isabella Dupree said. “I understand it’s not the district’s fault, but it’s just unsafe.” 

Students are also experiencing late buses and in some cases the bus not showing because of the bus driver shortage. “The bus was late, just like every day,” Gray Meserve, freshman, who rides bus 228, said. 

The CPS district isn’t alone, either. This shortage is felt throughout the nation, with some states like Ohio even considering using the National Guard as bus drivers. In Chicago, some schools canceled in-person school because of the bus shortage. 

If you know someone who might be interested in becoming a bus driver, they can apply online at Drive4STA.com