Tackling the Nationwide School Bus Driver Shortage


AP News

The school bus driver shortage leaves school buses vacant.

Madeline Singer, Editor-In-Chief

School bus service providers across the nation are currently facing a significant shortage of bus drivers. The problem has become so significant that some states have resorted to deploying the National Guard to help transport students to and from school.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Education has made the issue crystal clear with a banner headline on its website calling for bus drivers. The site links to a “school bus driver interest form” that potential candidates can fill out and have their information shipped off to local school districts across the state. Late last month Pennsylvania announced it was reaching out directly to the estimated 375,000 commercial driver’s license holders in the state to ask if they had any interest in driving a school bus. State officials said last week they had 1,300 show interest.

The reason for the bus driver shortage is simple yet complicated, COVID-19. During quarantine, schools were shut down, forcing drivers to find new jobs that were available. In addition, some drivers also chose their health over their job. With the delta variant (and any other viruses), some drivers who might have considered a return are staying on the sidelines a little bit longer. 

Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, directed the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration to design the necessary testing and credentialing for school bus driver applicants. The MVA is ramping up same-day Commercial Driver License (CDL) appointments. It’s all hands on deck for Montgomery County Public Schools to ensure that a bus driver shortage doesn’t affect normal operations with the academic school year. In comparison, MCPS is better positioned than many other school districts because it did not lay off bus operators at the height of the pandemic when school buildings were closed. Instead, it had drivers do other work. Otherwise, MCPS would likely be facing a more serious problem. Districts across the country hope this issue will be solved soon, as it will benefit students, parents and schools nationwide.