Improving economy blamed for statewide school bus driver shortage


As the new school year starts, a number of Minnesota school districts are struggling to find enough bus drivers.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that both the Duluth and Proctor district are experiencing shortages, and says that many drivers work fewer than 20 hours per week and get no benefits. Proctor superintendent John Engelking said an increase in full-time jobs in the strengthening economy is making the bus driver job less attractive.

"You just don't get a lot of people who want to step up and do this," Engelking said.

The districts are also having trouble finding substitute drivers. Tim Sworsky, the Duluth school district's senior human resources manager, said managers from the transportation department often have to fill in when the regular drivers can't make it to work.

The problem is not limited to Duluth.

Earlier this summer, KARE 11 reported the First Student bus company, which serves a number of Minnesota school districts, offered incentives in its efforts to recruit drivers, including a $1,000 signing bonus.

In central Minnesota, the St Cloud Times reports "a slight pinch" in the number of available bus drivers. There are four bus operators that serve the St. Cloud school district and they're not operating at full driver capacity.

The newspaper notes some of those operators are relying on mechanics and office workers to fill the void behind the wheel.

"The bus driver shortage has really impacted everyone," said Tim Schubert, general manager for Trobec’s Bus Services. "By no means is the shortage over."

The Chaska Herald noted some parents with children attending Eastern Carver County Schools got a message from the transportation department last week when school started, which said bus delays were connected to the shortage of drivers.

In anticipation, they brought in "a number of experienced drivers" from St. Paul, and they practiced their routes last week, the release explained.

"Nevertheless, they are unfamiliar with our area and some got lost this morning or missed stops. The shortage of drivers means we have a shortage of substitutes," it added.

Next Up

vaccine, covid

Twin Cities police investigating COVID vaccine thefts in viral videos

Videos of both incidents were recorded and shared online.

Guthrie theater

Guthrie to reopen to the public in July, shows resume this fall

The theater has been closed to the public for more than a year.

Target - good and gather plant based

Target is launching more than 30 new plant-based grocery products

All are part of the company's hit Good & Gather brand.

Roller Garden

Roller Garden to auction off skates, signs, arcade games and more

Many items from the beloved Roller Garden will be up for auction next month.

joseph ness booking photo

Charges: Chanhassen man fired hundreds of rounds, killing his sister

Six rifles, including AR-15 and AK-47 variants, were found inside the home.

police lights

Woman robbed and assaulted at gunpoint in Waite Park, police say

The incident occurred on Sunday at around 11:30 p.m.

pixabay - marijuana cannabis

Marijuana legalization: Minnesota House to vote Thursday

The "historic" vote on the House floor is set for Thursday afternoon.

Alicia Hinze

St. Paul brunch favorite The Buttered Tin to open Minneapolis location

Alicia Hinze's breakfast spot and bakery is heading to Northeast.