School bus driver shortage continues in Waterbury

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WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — As we head into Thanksgiving break, many Connecticut school districts are still dealing with a bus driver shortage.

News 8’s Ken Houston headed to Waterbury to see how bad the need is for drivers, and what it takes before you’re allowed to climb behind the wheel.

From one bus stop to another, school bus drivers make early morning runs to get students to class on time, but there’s just one problem.

“We started the school year about 50 drivers short. Right now, we’ve gotten that down to about 30 drivers,” Steven Shaughnessy, Durham School Services’ regional manager said.

That shortage is being blamed on COVID-19, and other companies competing for the same drivers.

“As we go back and look at the pandemic, obviously increased unemployment benefits were a factor,” Shaughnessy said.

People with family members attending school in the district find the delays frustrating.

“Especially when it comes to having younger children, waiting for them is a nerve-wracking feeling, My kids aren’t home yet. Where are they? Are they still at school? Has the bus even come?” Samantha Montalvo of Waterbury said.

“We really want to apologize to the city and the community of Waterbury for any and all service interruptions,” Shaughnessy said.

Right now, school bus drivers are being paid $19.25 an hour to start, but what qualifications are needed before you’re allowed to climb behind the wheel?

“If you don’t have a CDL license, you can go through our training program,” Shaughnessy said. “It takes 8 weeks or so.”

If you’re interested in becoming a school bus driver for Waterbury Public Schools, click here to learn more information, or call (203) 591-1847.

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