NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Would You Believe A Shortage Of School Bus Drivers?

November 9, 1999

The humming U.S. economy is forcing some children to wait up to an hour for a ride to school. The pool of potential bus drivers has largely disappeared as fewer people pursue part-time work -- especially jobs that require them to discipline children.

  • The trade magazine, School Bus Fleet, reports that more than 70 percent of the nation's school districts are struggling to find drivers -- with officials in 44 states citing the shortage as a problem, and 17 of them calling it severe.
  • Some experts put the shortage of drivers nationwide at 20 percent.
  • Some school districts and private bus companies are offering recruiting bonuses of up to $1,000 -- along with higher wages, longer hours and child-care services.
  • Then they are adding cash prizes for referrals and good attendance.

Recruiting now involves radio and television advertisements, job fairs and even door-to-door canvases. Such is the downside of a full-throttle economy.

Those familiar with the problem say that substitute drivers are not the answer -- even if they could be found. Substitutes don't know the routes, don't know the children and have trouble keeping order. That is when accidents tend to happen, they warn.

Source: Jodi Wilgoren, "First Seat on School Bus Proves Hardest to Fill," New York Times, November 9, 1999.


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