Massachusetts bus driver shortage continuing into 2022-23 school year

Massachusetts has had a shortage of school bus drivers, and it isn’t slowing down as classes get underground.

“I really feel like it stems from the very beginning of the pandemic,” said Sheila Morse, manager of the Duxbury branch of the First Student Bus Co., which covers towns on the South Shore.

“A lot of kids started taking classes from home, and some enrolled in home-school classes,” Morse said. “That left a lot of bus drivers with no jobs. Those drivers needed new jobs, so when other things opened up, they went somewhere else.”

She said bus companies are trying to find new employees, but that’s not easy.

“It’s a good three-and-a-half-month process before people can earn their (CDL) license,” Morse said. “They need 60 hours behind the wheel before they can drive.”

More:What is a CDL license?

School Transportation Association of Massachusetts Executive Director Tom Hamilton said the shortage has existed for a long time.

There is a shortage of school bus drivers.

“I feel like there’s always a shortage of drivers,” Hamilton said. “It’s just gotten worse since the pandemic. There’s an inconsistency to the job as it is, and when the pandemic hit, a lot of drivers found other jobs.”

He said drivers had opportunities to use their CDL licenses with companies that offer much more consistent jobs than being a school bus driver.