Bus driver shortage big challenge for Capital Region schools

BETHLEHEM – As if COVID and virtual learning weren’t enough for school districts to worry about, now there’s a real concern over whether districts can get students to and from school every day.

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In an ideal world, the Bethlehem Central School District would love to have 75 bus drivers to transport students to and from school every day. The reality is they only have 58 bus drivers. That creates a dilemma not just for the district, but for thousands of families as well.

In Bethlehem, there are several reasons for the bus driver shortage. In the age of COVID, many of them choose not to ride inside a bus crowded with children.

Because of the shortage, they’ve initiated a three-tier pick-up schedule instead of two here in this particular district. That means three-separate bus runs for each of the student age groups: elementary, middle, and high school, which lengthens the bus driving hours.

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Many drivers who do this as their second job were no longer available.

Like so many other school districts, Bethlehem stepped up their recruitment efforts, offering all sorts of incentives.

However, there’s also a delicate balance, since none of the districts want to get into a bidding war with an adjacent district.
Bottom line: it has been a challenge finding enough school bus drivers.

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Learn about the big changes the bus driver shortage has forced some students to make to their schedules by watching the video of Dan Levy’s story.