MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – As the school year winds down, Madison City Schools says it’s in desperate need of school bus drivers. The district says they’ve been dealing with a shortage of drivers for a few years.
Students have been on and off the bus all throughout the pandemic. Some transportation planners believe COVID-19 is shrinking the interest pool of potential school bus drivers.
For Madison City Schools, they currently have 8 open driver positions.
“That’s critical. To put it in perspective, of the 8 drivers, at least 4 of those positions would drive not just an elementary run, but a second run,” said John Wilson, the Transportation Coordinator for MCS.
Run means bus route.
Wilson says the logistics of getting 121 routes around the city is always a challenge. Especially with the growth in Madison. The bigger the city gets, the longer the bus routes. Making it near impossible to have drivers do multiple routes.
“Because of the distance and the number of children we have in the Triana area, the driver is only able to do one run in the morning and one run in the afternoon for one elementary school,” said Wilson.
Currently, some school buses are running hybrid routes. Which sometimes means students will not ride their primary bus consistently. This isn’t ideal for the district, students, or parents.
Madison City Schools also only has three substitute drivers, all three have other jobs. However, that’s not a deal-breaker for the 8 open positions.
“We do ask that they are here for 2-hours in the morning and 2-hours in the afternoon. We have a number of employees who have other jobs during the day. They are able to work around where they can drive a bus in the morning and afternoon,” said Wilson.
By putting in 4 hours a day, the job could net someone upwards of 17k a year plus benefits and some retirement options.
“Of course you get student’s days, days students are off. Holidays are paid holidays, paid summers. Again, they don’t have to work June and July,” said Wilson.
If you have a commercial drivers license (CDL) you can apply right away. Madison City Schools says they are more than happy to provide help/guidance navigating the requirements for anyone who is interested in becoming a bus driver.