Albany School District bus driver shortage update

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The City School District of Albany gave an update on their School bus driver shortage. This problem has plagued the capital region all school year with many schools having problems finding bus drivers.

Problem

Currently, Albany still does not have enough bus drivers. The district currently has 83 bus routes each day, and only 79 bus drivers if every driver is able to report to work that day. COVID is still impacting the Albany school district and the community as the pandemic continues to present challenges for most organizations.

As a result, on a daily basis, Albany does not have drivers to cover 8-15 of their current routes. This is after they started the year by consolidating runs to eliminate eight routes due to the driver shortage. Albany is currently down 16-23 routes on a daily basis from where the Transportation Department would like to be, all because there are no drivers for those buses.

Response

To respond, Albany is rearranging routes most days to maximize the number of drivers available. This means that routes are doubled or even tripled on some days, leading to inconsistent arrival times as routes and drivers sometimes change daily. 

Some buses may continue to run 20-30 minutes behind schedule until the driver shortage eases. Please be assured that students are not being marked tardy at school when a late bus is the reason they arrive late.

Some buses may also be more full with bus drivers taking more routes. The COVID guidance from federal, state, and local health professionals allows school buses to operate at regular capacity this school year.

Another thing that is causing delays is the student’s behavioral problems. More kids on the bus mean an increase in behavioral challenges. This leads to delays, as drivers sometimes need to pull over to manage student behavior and safety. 

Albany is asking parents to talk to their kids about how wearing masks are mandatory on school buses and the importance of following the rules while they are riding a bus to and from school.

Addresing the Problem

First Student currently has 19 drivers in the application and training process, and expects as many as eight of these individuals to be on the road by mid-November. 

If you or someone you know might be interested in driving a school bus and serving our school community, please consider the following incentives that First Student is offering:

  • First Student bus drivers earn well above the local industry standard
    • Drivers of large buses start at $21.64 an hour; drivers of small buses start at $19.49 an hour
  • A $2,500 sign-on bonus for fully credentialed new drivers, and a $1,500 sign-on bonus and paid CDL training for new drivers who are not yet certified.
    • First Student also offers current drivers a $1,500 incentive for referring a new driver
  • A $500 sign-on bonus for monitors as well as a $500 referral bonus for current monitors
  • CDL permit classes on-site
    • Historically, candidates were required to hold a CDL license before applying for a position. 

If you or someone you know would like to find out more about job opportunities with First Student, please visit workatfirst.com and search jobs in Albany.

The district has reached out to other local yellow bus providers for help, but they are experiencing the same driver shortages. The CDTA is also being explored with potential options. 

How you can help

If parents and guardians are available to transport their kids from or to school, Albany says this would help reduce the total number of students requiring bus transportation. This would assist with the management of COVID health and safety protocols, as well as student behavior.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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