The questions in front of us are what is causing severe school bus driver shortages all over, why are bus drivers leaving or retiring from these positions at a faster pace, and what is so different now that makes driving a school bus less appealing than ever before?
Many ideas and points of view on this issue come from school bus drivers, trainers, and some route supervisors or managers from across the country. Here are six key reasons that school bus drivers hang up their keys.
- Low Pay: School bus drivers earn less per hour than other CDL class drivers on the road.
- Limited Hours: Drivers work a split shift, so there is a limited number of hours they can get. In many cases, extra work, like field trips, pays far less than the amount they get for driving their regular routes.
- Part-Time Status: Even if they are offered benefits like full-time employees, employers still consider them part-time because they work one shift in the early morning and another shift in the afternoon. The trouble is that the hours they are required to work are such that it makes it impossible to do any other part-time job, because very few companies will hire them for the hours they have left in their day.
- Unaffordable Health Care: Many bus drivers who are offered health and other benefits cannot afford them because there is nothing much left of their check after the premiums for health care are deducted.
- Start-Up Costs: They have to come up with money, in most cases, for this job even before or at least at the start of their school bus driver training, because they are going to need a pre-employment background check, drug test, and a physical. Every new driver winds up paying all or a part of the cost of all these things. They will have a Class B CDL after the training, but if they have been out of work and have no money, it is going to be a while before they get a check for this job.
- Lack of Support: The main reason people are bailing out of this job faster rests squarely on the shoulders of upper management or administration of bus companies and school systems. Some common grievances include: administrators not backing up school bus drivers when parents complain; policies that don’t support drivers; disciplinary actions that are perceived as unfair; not showing appreciation for oldest employees; and too many hoops for drivers to jump through to get administrators to discipline children for unsafe behavior on the bus.
When parents are shocked that a school bus driver does care, is this not a clear indication that our public school systems are failing on some level and need to make some changes?