Wake County Schools

Wake County bus driver shortage could impact students

Posted July 26

— In just over a month, traditional calendar students in Wake County will head back to school, but district officials are facing a challenge in making sure they can get there.

“We are already anticipating starting the year off with less bus drivers than we had last year,” said Wake County schools spokesperson Lisa Luten.

Even with lowered hiring goals, there are still 70 open bus driver positions in Wake County. Luten said it’s a shortage playing out in many parts of the country.

“What’s really driving it is increased need for people working in transportation. Think about the Amazon packages that come to your house, the drivers that are required to drive those trucks,” she said.

Due to the driver shortage, school officials estimate at least 20 shared bus runs- where one bus serves two groups of students-when school resumes.

“It impacts students by an average of 15 minutes. Either they are getting to school 15 minutes earlier or they are leaving 15 minutes later,” Luten said.

School officials understand the shared bus runs are not ideal, which is why they are working hard to get more drivers on the road by holding multiple recruitment fairs.

“We are in the process of hiring bus drivers right now,” Luten said.

School officials are also making the position look more attractive by advocating for increased pay and adding cameras on buses to reduce discipline issues.

The school board also voted to offer employees $100 for recruiting a new bus driver that ends up behind the wheel.

“Looking at whose interested, who would be great to work with children,” Luten said.

Anybody interested in applying to become a bus driver can apply on the district website.

District officials said they will have a better idea of how their recruitment efforts paid off late next month.

5 Comments

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  • Robert Swiger Sr. Jul 27, 4:04 p.m.
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    I see empty buses on Interstate 40 almost every morning. Where are they going?, and why on 40 creating a traffic hazard. Could they not be be picking up Children?

  • Ronald Woodard Jul 27, 11:05 a.m.
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    Wake County seems to be operating like many businesses with a distorted view of capitalism. Just like some businesses the school system has offered a wage it wishes it could pay to attract enough workers. I doubt Wake will now offer the jobs to illegal immigrants as some businesses decide to do, but why not offer a higher wage and some benefits to attract enough bus drivers. CEOs think getting more money to attract them to a job is OK, why not allow this to happen for working people?

  • Johnny Priest Jul 27, 9:51 a.m.
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    Now admittedly I was in school a long time ago and in a different State. Also where I was the city and county school districts were separate. The city high schools had no school buses. Instead we rode the city bus at a greatly reduced rate. Maybe Wake schools should look at ways to use city buses to get kids to school. Or maybe parents should look into it to see if their kids would benefit not being on a school bus.

  • Lori De Stefano Jul 27, 9:31 a.m.
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    Maybe if they stopped shipping kids all over the dang county instead of letting them go to schools closer to where they live they wouldn't need so many buses. If the kid lives in Apex why bus them all the way to East Raleigh for an hour ride when they could walk or ride their bike to school? I know it's a diversity thing so don't get on my case but really, kid lives down the street from the school they can walk to and they have to get up at 5am to get a bus to take them 4 towns over - Common sense people - half the traffic on the roads in the morning is parents driving the kids to school

  • Kelly Birdsall Jul 27, 8:30 a.m.
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    No Lisa Luten, increased need for delivery Drivers isn't the problem. Inadequate pay & ridiculous non sense from the dept. of school transportation & too many kids to watch with no monitor, is the problem. It's a competitive market. If you want Drivers you need to make it worth their while & stop lining your own pockets!!!