Throughout Montana, the same sentiment is echoed state-wide: 2021 has marked the worst year for school bus driver shortages. The shortage is resulting in longer school days with earlier drop offs and later pick-ups, packed buses, and canceled sporting events. In response, Montana schools are offering paid training, higher wages, and other employee perks as incentive to help get kids to school.
“The labor shortage is driving up wages and increasing competition for drivers,” according to an article in the Montana Free Press. Lack of available drivers is due to multiple factors: the national labor shortage, impacts from COVID-19 and competition with alternate jobs.
Most bus driving positions are part-time, so many drivers are switching to other full-time jobs that may pay less but guarantee more hours per week or offer additional benefits such as health insurance.
Bozeman Public Schools are incentivizing drivers by raising wages from $20 to up to $25 an hour according to Douglas Kellie, transportation director for Bozeman Public Schools.