NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Thanks to the pandemic, there is now a nationwide shortage of school bus drivers. In New Haven, school begins in just a week, and they are looking for more people to drive the big yellow bus.
One day back in March of last year, the school buses stopped rolling, and nobody knew when they would start again. While a lot of school bus drivers got by on government assistance. Others started driving trucks, as everyone was suddenly ordering everything delivered to their homes.
“The fact that drivers are in demand and that we are competing for them makes it a very competitive market,” said Carl Jackson, New Haven Schools’ Director of Transportation.
Jackson says he thinks they have enough bus drivers for all the city’s routes.
“The term that we are trying to use now is that we’re trying to be cautiously optimistic.”
Busing in New Haven is handled by the company First Student. It has been working on ways to recruit drivers. The latest way is a $5,000 signing bonus for certified drivers who sign up now.
“Once they have stayed on the job for a certain amount of days, usually 30 days or more, they will have earned that incentive,” said Jackson.
Drivers are encouraged to get vaccinated, but it is not mandatory. Everyone on the school bus will have to wear a mask at all times. Whether New Haven can get by with existing drivers really depends on how the pandemic goes from here.
“If drivers, for example, have a sick day, do we have a spare ratio large enough to cover existing runs?” Jackson wondered.
If you are interested in being a school bus driver, especially if you already have your CDL, you can apply for a job with First Student by calling (860) 474-3365 or going to: firstgroupcareers.com and search for “New Haven”.