One of the challenges in pupil transportation that tends to ebb and flow, based on the economy or other factors, is shortages of school bus drivers.

Considering the demands of the job, the training and testing requirements, the background checks, and the fact that some other types of commercial driving jobs pay better, it’s no surprise that the school bus driver’s seat can be a hard one to fill.

In the upcoming October issue of SCHOOL BUS FLEET, our report on the Top 100 School District Fleets in the U.S. (which is ranked by number of route buses) includes some interesting information about driver shortage.

The Top 100 districts that filled out an extended survey were asked to rate their degree of school bus driver shortage.

Here are the percentages of respondents in each category:

None: 11%
Mild: 24%
Moderate: 36%
Severe: 25%
Desperate: 4%

While those descriptions don’t tell you exactly how many drivers the districts are short, they at least give a general assessment of the problem — particularly when compared to the previous year’s survey.

Here’s what I think stands out the most: In this year’s Top 100 survey, 29% of the respondents said that they have a severe or desperate school bus driver shortage. Last year, only 13% reported a severe shortage, and no one reported a desperate shortage. That’s a significant shift.

We know that school bus driver shortage is a widespread issue for the industry, and it seems to have worsened in the past year. Now we want to delve into the solutions that are helping to address the problem.

If you have tips for dealing with driver shortage, please send them to me at We'll share the best practices in an upcoming article.

Thomas McMahon is executive editor of SCHOOL BUS FLEET.

About the author
Thomas McMahon

Thomas McMahon

Executive Editor

Thomas had covered the pupil transportation industry with School Bus Fleet since 2002. When he's not writing articles about yellow buses, he enjoys running long distances and making a joyful noise with his guitar.

View Bio