School bus companies experience driver shortages

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Chippewa Yellow Bus Company and Student Transit are experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers.

Many students start and end their day on the school bus, but filling drivers for those routes is getting harder, said Chippewa Yellow Bus Company Office Manager Jeff Novak.

“I think everybody is short on school buses,” Novak said. “We could use another half dozen drivers right now. We’re cutting short some services that we normally would offer and mainly our after-school activities.”

Student Transit General Manager Marty Klukas said he could use a dozen more drivers to help fill routes and cover after-school activities. Without more drivers coming in, Klukas said adjustments have been made, like contacting drivers in other school districts to help cover some services.

“We have, on occasion this year, enlisted the help of other perimeter districts with helping with charters,” Klukas said. “We have had to not, quote-unquote, cancel, but we’ve, in kind of a quasi emergency situation, have had to think out of the box and say, okay, we’re going to take two routes and slam them together.”

The best fix is to hire more drivers. Both bus companies are accepting applications for what Novak said is a flexible job.

“It’s a fantastic job. You can work in the morning, work in the afternoon. The pay is excellent,” Novak said. “You can have the middle of the day off. You can eliminate daycare, take your child with you while you do around and have all the vacation times off.”

Klukas said one of the biggest benefits of driving a school bus is knowing you’re making a difference.

“This is a development of our future leaders, future workers, our future everything,” Klukas said. “We want them to have the best experience both to and from school, and so you might not think the bus driving has much of an impact on that. I can assure you, it does.”

The Chippewa Yellow Bus Company and Student Transit plan to help with necessary certifications and training for individuals to become drivers. If you have any interest in driving a school bus, Klukas and Novak said to reach out.