The Connecticut School Transportation Association or COSTA is warning of a severe shortage of bus drivers that could impact the school year getting underway.
“The shortage is at a crisis level. There is no doubt about it,” said Jon Hipsher, the chief operating officer of M&J Bus.
Hipsher says his company handles transportation for 24 districts in the state and is looking to hire about 100 workers.
He says this challenge is affecting bus companies all across the state.
“The shortage is something that’s been building for a number of years but the pandemic last year really hurt all of us,” said Hipsher.
With the school year already starting, M&J is trying to find short-term solutions: combining routes, making some longer and loading more kids on a bus.
It’s tough now and likely to become even more difficult when school sports and field trips begin.
“We need patience from moms and dads and school administrators. Bear with us while we’re working with this crisis,” said Hipsher.
Even when new drivers are hired it can take several months to get them going because of required background checks.
We’re told pay ranges from $18 to $25 per hour.
For more than a decade Greg Cordova has been getting behind the wheel of a school bus in Colchester.
“It’s very rewarding,” said Cordova.
Now it’s a scramble to make changes to routes to get ready for this school year.
“We’re desperate to make it work,” said Cordova.
People can find openings near them on DriveCTKids.org.