Humble (Texas) Independent School District (ISD) is taking a unique approach to tackling driver shortage: giving its attendants a shot at the driver’s seat.
During a school day in mid-January between routes, Humble ISD invited all of its bus attendants to take part in a ride-and-drive event, and eight participated. The idea behind the event was to give attendants the opportunity to get behind the wheel and see what it’s like to drive a school bus in the safety of a large parking lot, while possibly gaining some future bus drivers.
“Oftentimes, attendants want to work in the transportation field, but are concerned about driving a big bus,” said Mark Swackhamer, assistant director of transportation for Humble ISD. “The ride-and-drive gave [them] the opportunity to try driving a school bus with no further obligation or commitment.”
The district used three general education 77-passenger buses and one 47-passenger special-needs bus for the event. Three driver trainers assisted the attendants, who drove the buses in a Humble ISD stadium parking lot, practicing backing and figure eights.
Seven of the eight attendants who participated in the event have decided to start the training to become school bus drivers, Swackhamer said.
“This event was a huge success for both the district and the employees,” said Jeff Prowell, director of transportation for Humble ISD.
The ride-and-drive event was the brainchild of Tina Bedford, a dispatcher for Humble ISD, and Sue McGrath, a driver trainer for the district, according to Swackhamer.