Santa Monica hit by shortage of school bus drivers

SMMUSD started this semester with two drivers for six routes that had been covered by six drivers before

By Dolores Quintana

Labor shortages have plagued many industries during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Restaurants are struggling to stay open day-to-day due to understaffing due to Covid infections run through their staff and a number of former staff who have chosen to retire from the industry.

With students returning to class in the Santa Monica and Malibu Unified School District, another Covid-Related staffing issue has reared its head as reported by CBS News.

The shortage of school bus drivers is a national problem, as noted by joint temporary action taken by the US Department of Education and the US Department of Transportation in January of this year, but has been a problem throughout the pandemic.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in the January joint press release, “This administration is listening to the needs of school communities and remains committed to ensuring schools are open safely. for full-time, in-person learning. Educators and parents have told us that labor shortages, especially of bus drivers, are a barrier to keeping children in school. today’s announcement will give states the flexibility they need to help increase the pool of drivers, who are a key part of the school community, and get kids to school safely every day when students learn best.And US bailout funds can be used to hire these essential staff, including offering increased pay or other incentives to recruit and retain staff.

The temporary waiver granted under this joint action expired in March 2022, but it shows how serious the problem is across the country.

Former bus driver Steve Brown said, quoted by CBS News: “Now I make more money here, I don’t need to drive again. That’s how the shortage happened. I also lost the passion for driving school buses. I don’t know, the pandemic did something to me. School districts are losing drivers to other companies that employ drivers like Uber, Lyft and Amazon.

According to CBS News, SMMUSD began this semester with two drivers for six routes that had been covered by six drivers previously. This is a problem because the school district has 9,000 students taking classes and the lack of drivers has caused the district to have the average number of students a driver needs to pick up on a route from 30 or 40 students to 60 students per route.