Local school bus companies cope with bus driver shortage

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - Amid a reported nationwide shortage of school bus drivers just weeks before returning to school, local transportation providers say they are feeling the same effects.

The providers contacted by FOX43 Tuesday say they are short on drivers, but say they are not facing severe shortages.

The companies say they are facing several challenges in finding new people to drive their fleet.

"It is only a part-time job, and a lot of people are looking for full-time jobs," Lorie Bevans, with Reliance Student Transportation in York County, said. "We try to be fair, be competitive with the other companies out there."

Providers say they are willing to take on anyone who can complete the training and background checks. Bevans suggested one group in particular that may be a natural fit for driving a bus full of children.

"It is a good job for a mother who maybe has children at home and doesn't want to pay that big daycare bill," she said. "It gives the opportunity to have their children with them and then earn some paycheck."

Transportation providers say they are doing things they have not had to in the past, like attending more job fairs and events, as well as paid advertising.

"Things we didn't do three four years ago, we didn't have to advertise because we always had a lot of applications and a lot of people coming in," said Don Boyanowski with Boyo Transportation, which provides school transportation in four counties in central Pennsylvania.

Another obstacle to entry is the amount of training that goes into what is only a part-time job. A minimum 14 hours of classroom training and six hours of behind-the-wheel training are required to become a school bus driver, although some companies may require more than that.

Some companies are offering to cover the costs of that training.

"For somebody to walk in, that could take 8 to 10 weeks to get the driver submitted and approved by the district to drive and then get all of their training certifications and get their CDL (commercial driver's license)," Boyanowski said.