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Bus driver shortage addressed in Buffalo School Board meeting

Representatives from First Student also gave a presentation about their efforts to get more drivers hired and trained, and how to keep their current drivers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The 2021-2022 school year is about two months in, and one big issue we keep hearing about is about bus driver shortages. The Buffalo School Board met Wednesday night at Waterfront Elementary to discuss this ongoing issue.

Parents voiced their concerns about overcrowded buses and long wait times — several hours in some cases. Representatives from First Student also gave a presentation about their efforts to get more drivers hired and trained, and how to keep their current drivers.

Just last month 2 On Your Side heard from a BPS parent who says her son was more than an hour and a half late getting home. She called the bus company 17 times before she could get through to find out what was going on.

At that time, Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said they were operating with 515 drivers and during a normal year, the school district would have 667.

First Student says it's hosting more job fairs to try and recruit more drivers.

"We've also set up some things that are aimed at retention," said Brian Fitzgerald, senior vice president of First Student Mid Atlantic. "Obviously, we can go out and hire 100 bus drivers, but in order to make that a net number you have to make sure you're keeping the folks you have. So, things like added scholarships, regular meals at locations."

The company is also increasing both signing bonuses and referral bonuses for current drivers who help bring in new ones.