JCPS bus driver shortage explained


Morgan Schmidt

This infographic displays some of the main reasons why bus drivers, and therefore buses; have been so scare to start the school year. Design by Morgan Schmidt

Grace Fridy

Every morning when Elias Elder walks onto their bus, they take a gamble on how late school they’ll be today. JCPS students have been getting to school later and later this year, as well as getting home at even less punctual times than normal. A shortage of bus drivers has led to fewer buses in circulation; leaving kids like Elias stuck in cramped and sweaty conditions.

We’ve been sitting three to a seat just in an attempt to cram everyone on in the mornings,” Elder (VA, 10) said. 

Congested buses are a common theme for Manual students, as is arriving late. 

Parker Williams (YPAS, 11) rides one of the many Manual buses suffering due to bus driver scarcity. His bus often gets to school around 35 minutes after the start of classes. Parker has even resorted to calling an Uber on occasion instead of a bus, just so he could arrive at school on time. 

These problems have students like Elias and Parker arriving at school after the bell, and standing in aisles when there aren’t any available seats. When there is no bus driver, kids and administrators alike have more pressing issues on their plates. According to WDRB, the district was short 250 bus drivers at the beginning of the school year. That number has risen by 80 in the last three years. 

The number of bus drivers isn’t the only stunted element of JCPS busing. They have gradually raised the bus driver hourly salary from 16.95 to 21.69 dollars, with a 6-hour bonus linked to attendance, so why aren’t bus drivers flocking to JCPS? 

One reason could be other job opportunities. UPS, FedEx and JCPS have similar starting wages; however, some jobs in Jefferson County requiring similar qualifications (Commercial Driver’s License) have a starting pay anywhere from 25-30 dollars. These higher salaries are luring in Louisville drivers, but that’s not the only thing that pushes them towards the corporate field. 

Bus conduct is a common deterrent when it comes to weighing whether or not to become a bus driver. Considering that buses are packed with students, unruliness can be expected to follow. 

“There’s been three to a seat usually, and the most we’ve had standing is 14,” Elder (VA,10) said. 

Overcrowding, combined routes and student misbehavior is not drawing in many bus drivers at the moment.

That’s the biggest problem that we’re having: attracting drivers and keeping drivers because of student behavior,” said the President of Teamsters 783 John Stovall. 

Student misbehavior on its own is unattractive to possible job applicants. In addition, the lack of competition between hourly pay for drivers might just be the straw that broke the school bus’s back.