Pennsylvania not proof against nationwide college bus driver scarcity

State officers took an uncommon step Thursday and reached out to extra 375,000 commercially licensed drivers in hopes of overlaying a rising college bus driver scarcity.

Kurt Myers, deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Division of Transportation, advised reporters the pool of certified bus drivers has shrunk to 42,000, the bottom stage seen in 5 years.

“We urge CDL licensees who’re in search of work or supplemental employment to acquire a faculty bus endorsement – making the most of the extra hours for CDL testing – to assist transport college students safely,” Myers stated.

Performing Training Secretary Noe Ortega stated the state stays conscious of the continued transportation challenges and expressed hope a inventive resolution may very well be discovered.

“I do know it may be irritating to our college students, and our dad and mom and faculty leaders are working extremely laborious to deal with these wants,” Ortega stated. “The necessity for bus drivers isn’t one thing we are able to repair in a single day … [but] I consider we are able to make progress on this.”

The state of affairs compelled a number of college districts throughout the state to delay college opening till after Labor Day, together with Pittsburgh Public Faculties.

The driving force scarcity, domestically and nationally, is the results of low wages, restricted hours, and minimal well being advantages that harm recruitment efforts, Pittsburgh Public Faculties stated . The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue.

Drivers additionally should undergo rigorous coaching that usually is unpaid and obtain a number of clearances, Mort Snider, who works for Beckwith Buses in Centre County, stated throughout an interview with the Altoona Mirror in August.

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“We’ve got had folks now we have turned down,” Snider stated. “When you have a DUI, you’re achieved. You want a clear driving file and have to take a drug take a look at. We do random testing 4 instances a yr.”

The Pennsylvania Faculty Bus Affiliation, in an effort to drum up curiosity, launched a recruitment marketing campaign in July to match potential drivers with job openings. The salaries vary from $15 an hour to $25 an hour with advantages.

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