Athletic department strives to counter bus driver shortage

School+bus+drivers+are+harder+and+harder+to+come+by%2C+due+in+part+to+the+irregular+hours+the+job+requires+them+to+work.+

Flickr CC: Sarah Le Clerc

School bus drivers are harder and harder to come by, due in part to the irregular hours the job requires them to work.

Martha Sanchez, RubicOnline

Over the past year, the Twin Cities has faced a shortage of school bus drivers. Here at SPA, sports teams in particular have felt the effects of this problem. 

“When we were at Providence, which is an hour away, the bus was an hour late and we got picked up at 10:30 at night. When we got back to school all the doors were locked so I couldn’t get my school supplies. I was really mad,” senior basketball player Griffin Thissen said.

US Athletic Director Dawn Wickstrum understands how the issue affects students and deals with it regularly. 

“Buses [have been] showing up late or not at all despite being scheduled and confirmed,” Wickstrum said, “I do feel the demand is far greater than the ability of the companies to obtain enough drivers to fulfill all of the schools needs.”

When we were at Providence, which is an hour away, the bus was an hour late and we got picked up at 10:30 at night. When we got back to school all the doors were locked so I couldn’t get my school supplies.”

— Senior Griffin Thissen

State wide, the shortage of available bus drivers is understandable. According to MPR News, getting new drivers is difficult to accomplish. Applicants must have a clean record, work split shifts and cannot earn money over school breaks and during the summer. To combat these downfalls, bus companies are offering incentive programs for new hires, but many still decline for full time work elsewhere. 

With a busy sports schedule and the spring season fast approaching, the athletic department is working around the shortage. 

“We are working with two other bus companies in hopes that they will help fill in the gaps,” Wickstrum said, “For a majority of our busing we use the same company as SPA does for their school busing.” 

Wickstrum understands the reason for the shortage and ventured a further complication. 

“I can take a guess here and assume that not a lot of qualified driver’s are available for the times needed to actually drive the buses,” she said, “[It’s the] same issue we have with finding coaches – hard to find people that are available at 3 p.m.”

Sarah Le Clerc’s image bus. can be found here.