KAHULUI, Hawaii — School bus companies in the state are making strides in addressing the shortage of qualified bus drivers on Maui and Kauai, restoring one bus route and hiring several more CDL-licensed drivers.
As SBF previously reported, the state temporarily consolidated and suspended school bus routes for four schools on Maui due to the driver shortage, and the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) also reported a school bus driver shortage on Kauai.
As of Thursday, Lahainaluna High School on Maui plans to restore one school bus route to service on Monday morning, according to a news release from the HIDOE. The high school’s restored route is in addition to two routes already operating that also service Lahaina Intermediate School and Princess Nahienaena Elementary School. Additionally, school bus routes servicing more distant communities will be prioritized as more routes are restored.
Maui's shortage of school bus drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL) is currently at 11, down from 20 as of two weeks ago, according to the HIDOE.
Kauai's shortage of school bus drivers with a CDL is currently at eight, down from 10 as of two weeks ago. School bus routes have been consolidated to adjust to the staffing shortages and all schools are still being serviced.
Several driver candidates are currently in the licensing process, and routes on Maui and Kauai will be restored as they enter service, according to HIDOE.
School bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages for a limited time. Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services branch of the HIDOE at (808) 586-0170 as soon as possible. Interested drivers without a CDL are also being sought. The CDL training and testing process is open and takes approximately three weeks to complete, according to HIDOE.
"The department is working hard with our school bus contractors to return affected routes to service and we anticipate more routes to come online in the coming weeks," said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent for the HIDOE. "We truly appreciate the patience shown by our parents, students, and staff during this time."
Hawaii is not alone in its struggle to recruit and retain school bus drivers. Earlier this week, SBF Editor Tom McMahon discussed the widespread issue of school bus driver shortage on Good Morning America.