School Bus Drivers: The Unsung Heroes of Education in Pennsylvania

school busImage by Denise McQuillen

School bus drivers are critical in ensuring that students have access to safe, reliable transportation to and from school. Acting Secretary Hagarty and the Pennsylvania School Bus Association (PSBA) recently highlighted the important role that school bus drivers play across the commonwealth. “As we work to ensure that students in all areas—rural, urban, and suburban alike—have access to a high-quality education, we must also provide access to safe, reliable transportation to and from school,” said Acting Secretary Hagarty.

“School bus drivers are critical in that mission, and PDE is committed to supporting this industry as it works to recruit individuals to the workforce,” Hagarty contuned. School bus drivers are an essential part of the educational system in Pennsylvania, and PDE stated that it is committed to supporting the recruitment and retention of qualified individuals in this important profession.

In Pennsylvania, school bus drivers are in high demand. Last October, PennDOT and PDE reached out to approximately 375,000 drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) to issue a survey that will connect interested drivers with school entities. To date, more than 1,700 individuals have expressed an interest in serving as a bus driver. However, there is still a need for between 2,000 and 3,000 more drivers in Pennsylvania.

“On behalf of the PSBA and entire school transportation industry, we are thrilled about the Department’s support in creating further awareness about our industry and the important role our people play in the educational system by safely transporting our most precious cargo, and the challenges we are facing,” said Vice President of Rohrer Bus David Schrantz.

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The shortage of school bus drivers can be attributed to a number of factors, including low pay and challenging working conditions. But whatever the reason, it’s clear that more needs to be done to attract drivers to the school bus industry. The first step is raising awareness about the need for drivers. The survey being conducted by PennDOT and PDE is a start, but more needs to be done to get the word out.

PSBA has been working to address the driver shortage by launching a multi-faceted recruitment campaign. PSBA developed, a microsite designed to education people about the school bus industry and get them interested in becoming a driver, and, a free job portal that PSBA members can use to advertise open positions in their company. The organization also created a digital ad campaign, a Facebook ad campaign, and a YouTube ad campaign, which have been viewed collectively millions of times across the commonwealth.

Individuals interested in becoming bus drivers can fill out the PA School Bus Driver Interest Form online.

The Pennsylvania School Bus Association consists of over 300 school transportation contractors and industry partners who have come together to be a strong voice for school transportation safety and the school transportation contracting industry. Its mission is to provide programs, education, and services to promote and foster the highest degree of safety in the transportation of school children and strengthen the quality of student transportation through professional management.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website.

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