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Lack of school bus drivers is a problem in Bozeman



Bozeman, Montana – The lack of school bus drivers in Bozeman is an ongoing trend made worse by the pandemic.

If you’ve recently drove past Bozeman High School, you might have seen the bus parked in front with an advertisement for available driver positions.

In order to provide kids with transportation, the Bozeman School District collaborates with First Student, a large national bus operator.

According to TeraJo Meyer, site manager for Bozeman, they currently have less than five or six drivers.

In the past, when Bozeman experienced a driver shortage, First Student drivers from other locations, including Helena and Seattle, were able to fill the gap.

The issue is that they are required permanently, so they essentially have to remain until a local fills the role.

Meyer claimed that the fear of operating such a large vehicle with students inside is a major deterrent to people applying to be bus drivers. However, First Student is a licensed trainer and bus driving test administrator.

Before they are ever placed in traffic, drivers receive classroom instruction and practice using cones.

“Knowing that usually helps some people and eases their mind a little bit, knowing that they’re going to be able to learn how it maneuvers in a controlled environment before being tossed out in the road,” Meyer said.

Driving a school bus requires a commercial driver’s license, and First Student is an authorized CDL trainer and test provider.
The school system currently has 43 bus routes, 38 of which are full.

Drivers pick up pupils from their homes between 6-7 a.m. to transport them to school. Around 2:45 or 3 p.m., the afternoon route begins with the return of the pupils to their homes. Drivers are guaranteed at least two hours of salary at $27 per hour, even if they barely work an hour and a half.

Additionally, First Student collaborates with other organizations like the Girl Scouts and works other occasions like weddings.

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