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October 02, 2021

Pennsylvania sends 375K letters to recruit bus drivers to address shortage

The School District of Philadelphia is currently paying parents to drive their kids to school to deal with the shortage

Transportation Buses
School bus shortage Photo by Austin Pacheco/on Unsplash

The Department of Transportation is working to recruit more bus drivers as the state faces a shortage.

Pennsylvania officials mailed out 375,000 letters to recruit commercial driver's license holders to become bus drivers in an effort to address the current shortage.

Schools across the state are feeling the impact of the bus driver shortage, leaving districts struggling to incentivize drivers to come back to work. 

The Department of Transportation will mail out recruitment letters to all current CDL holders in an attempt to appeal to drivers looking for work or looking for additional income, NBC10 reported.

“We want to do everything we possibly can to expand the number of individuals with school bus endorsements to be able to get our children to school," Kurt Myers, PennDOT’s deputy secretary for driver and vehicle services, said.

PennDOT is also offering additional CDL skill testing each week on Mondays for four weeks beginning Oct. 18

The bus shortage is a nationwide problem, nearly 80% of districts across the country have reported they have had trouble filling their driver roles.

In Philadelphia, the school district is paying parents up to $3,000 over the course of the school year to drive their kids to and from school. There are just 619 vendor-employed drivers and 189 active, district-employed drivers in the School District of Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania School Bus Association surveyed its members over the summer and estimated that at least 1,000 drivers are needed statewide. There are currently more than 42,000 school bus drivers in the state, the lowest level in five years.

Some drivers are not returning to their previous jobs because of COVID-19 concerns, while others found new work after the pandemic shuttered schools across the country.

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