Bus Driver Shortage Nationwide


Nolan Burke

Schools nationwide face an unprecedented bus driver shortage this year.

In 2016, most Americans viewed the bus driver shortage as a major problem. Since 2016, the COVID-19 pandemic has made finding bus drivers even more challenging.

The average bus driver in the US is 56 years old. Many bus drivers aged 65 and above have pre-existing conditions that make them especially susceptible to complications from COVID-19. When the pandemic began in March of 2020, bus drivers aged 65 and older had an incentive to retire. 

New challenges posed to school districts during the pandemic have increased bus driver shortages exponentially. Almost every Arizona school district has multiple job openings for school bus drivers. Convincing people to become bus drivers when the delta variant runs rampant has posed a challenge.

Some bus drivers have quit because they are anti-maskers. US schools have responded to the bus driver shortage by offering hiring bonuses and bus training. Nearly 80 percent of surveyed districts had less than their required number of bus drivers.

School districts’ main challenge is student safety and protection against COVID-19. School districts’ second concern is the bus driver shortage. In mid 2020, demand for bus drivers was low since most schools used virtual learning. As schools transition back to in-person learning this year, the demand for bus drivers that had disappeared during the age of virtual learning is coming back in full swing, pressuring school faculty to find bus drivers quickly.

After COVID-19 subsides, the bus driver shortage will return to being school districts’ top priority.