Middle Georgia school districts need more bus drivers

Qualified applicants can be hired as a full time bus driver along with benefits.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)— Bus driver shortages are nothing new in Middle Georgia, and even across the nation. Bibb County Schools says it’s short about 30 drivers. Houston County Schools say it’s short by about 16 drivers. Both say it doesn’t effect the routes, but would like to be fully staffed.

Houston County Transportation Director, Tom Walmer, says there are 170 routes total. He says all routes except for three have an assigned driver. Supervisors, mechanics and dispatchers help with covering routes.

Walmer adds if they were fully staffed, they would have about 180 routes.

“Where we need to a driver may do their middle school and elementary and do somebody else’s high school and pitch in as a team effort all the drivers are great at helping out in those areas,” Walmer said.

Walmer says qualified applicants can be hired as a full time bus driver. They’re eligible for benefits with starting pay at $18.04 an hour. The district will train and assist applicants in getting certified.

In Bibb County, the district says it has enough drivers for now. Although, Transportation Director Anthony Jackson says they have condensed the routes to accommodate short staffing.

By adding 30 more drivers, he says it would allow them to add routes and help cover routes when a driver is out.

The district is currently offering a $1,000 sign on bonus, and have received 30 applications since adding the incentive.

“There’s still a long tedious process to get someone from application to actually driving the school bus in a safe and efficient manner,” said Jackson.

According to Jackson, they have a 45-day paid training program. Applicants will become certified and get help obtaining a Commercial Drivers License. He says bus drivers can also receive their Commercial Drivers License with passenger and school bus endorsements. Starting pay is $18.37 an hour for full time bus drivers with no experience. They can also receive benefits. Jackson shares why being a bus driver is rewarding.

“Each one of my drivers, each one of my employees, transportation staff even when we don’t know or we don’t see the impact we have we have impact on lives,” said Jackson.

Other school districts looking to hire bus drivers include Monroe County, they’re currently hiring five bus drivers. Washington County is in need of 14 full time bus drivers. Baldwin County needs six to ten part and full time drivers.

We also reached out to Twiggs and Laurens Counties to find out if they’re hiring bus drivers. We have not heard back.

Categories: Baldwin County, Bibb County, Education, Featured, Houston County, Local News, Monroe County, Washington County, WMGT