The Brighton Area Schools experienced a bus driver shortage last year and at the beginning of the current term, but temporarily solved its problem with the recent hiring of one more bus driver.

As a result, the longest route in the district was able to be split and the length of ride time for the students shortened. Supt. Greg Gray tells WHMI that even though they have enough drivers for now, they still need more drivers in case somebody leaves or gets sick. Other school districts in Livingston County also have trouble recruiting enough drivers, and often end up using subs, but that in itself can become a problem if a regular driver gets ill. Gray says the bus driver situation is a national problem, not just a local one.

A recent survey by School Bus Fleet magazine revealed that 22% of private bus contractors call their driver shortage “severe”. That has forced many districts to consolidate bus routes, with fewer stops. Gray admits that being a bus driver is a demanding and stressful job and involves a split shift – all factors that tend to reduce the pool of interested candidates. However, Gray says it can be a great part-time job for retirees or stay-at-home moms with older or grown children who have a good driving record and a lot of patience with kids.

The Livingston Educational Service Agency, which oversees the drivers and routes in all county school districts except Fowlerville, recently upped the starting pay from $14.50 to $16 an hour, and the hope is that the measure will attract more drivers. (TT)