School Bus Safety Advocates Warn Of Driver Shortage During Pandemic

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — School bus safety advocates are warning that a shortage of buses and drivers will make it harder to get kids to school.

This is on top of a number of other challenges that come with transporting kids to school during a pandemic, including social distancing measures and making sure everyone wears a mask.

“Manufacturers can’t supply enough buses to basically triple the fleets,” David Strong, president of the School Transportation Association of Massachusetts, said. “In Massachusetts alone, we’re looking at 9,000 buses. We’re not going to be able to buy 18,000 more buses. But, the bigger issue is, even if we could get the buses, if we already have a shortage of drivers, we’re going to be able to find drivers to move those other buses.”

Strong said hiring more qualified drivers could take weeks, if not months.

“It does involve 60 hours of training just to get a driver licensed in the first place. Usually, a good two months if you’re lucky and maybe longer,” Strong said. “They have to go through a physical exam, criminal record checks, drug and alcohol testing, the whole nine yards.”

Another concern with the shortage of drivers is how to replace them if they get sick. Strong said many are older or retired with underlying health conditions.

Strong said that a hybrid model of remote and in-person learning would help ease some of the pressure.

WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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