Is the worst behind us when it comes to the nationwide school bus driver shortage?
That may well be the case, based on responses from participants in the 2023 School Bus Fleet Top District Fleets survey, which indicates that 62% of school districts are facing moderate to desperate levels vital personnel behind the wheel. That’s down 10% compared to 2022, and down 26% compared to 2021.
Gwinnett County, a Georgia school district that came in first place among responding districts in the survey, reports that it is fully staffed with bus drivers.
“We continue to recruit, hire, and train drivers year-round to ensure we always have the drivers we need, planning proactively for the turnover that we know will occur at certain times during the year,” says Charley Humble, Gwinnett’s transportation director. “Our transportation team has a dedicated recruiting department, and they work tirelessly to find new and innovative ways to reach potential applicants.”
What else does the survey tell us this year? Consider:
- Average starting pay across the country climbed to $21.84, up from $20.89 in 2022.
- The average salary for transportation directors was $85,993.67 this year.
- About a third of responding school districts indicated their transportation operations are unionized.
- Service levels are expected to increase or remain the same in most districts.
- Diesel buses appear to be purchased less often, while vehicles fueled by gasoline and alternatives increased.
Top 5 School Bus Fleets Based on Route Buses
|RANK||DISTRICT||NO. OF ROUTE BUSES|
|1||Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools||1,636|
|2||Broward County (Fla.) Public Schools||980|
|3||Jefferson County (Ky.) Public Schools*||905|
|4||Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools*||875|
|5||Dekalb County (Ga.) Public Schools*||870|
* Latest available data
Top 5 School Bus Fleets Based on Ridership
|RANK||DISTRICT||STUDENTS TRANSPORTED DAILY|
|1||Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools||130,000|
|2||Charlotte-Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Schools||105,000|
|3||Cypress-Fairbanks (Texas) Independent School District||86,000|
|4||Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools*||86,000|
|5||Broward County (Fla.) Public Schools||73,000|
*Latest available data.
Top 25 School District Fleets
|RANK||DISTRICT||TOTAL SCHOOL BUSES||TOTAL IN DAILY ROUTE OPERATION||CONTRACTOR BUSES||STUDENTS TRANSPORTED||ANNUAL ROUTE MILEAGE|
Gwinnett County (Lawrenceville, GA)
Broward County Schools (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Jefferson County (Louisville, KY)*
Dekalb County (Tucker, GA)*
Hillsborough County (Tampa, FL)*
Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Schools (Charlotte, NC)
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (Cypress, TX)
Orange County Public Schools (Orlando, FL)
Polk County Public Schools (Bartow, FL)*
Greenville County (Taylors, SC)*
Cherokee County (Canton, GA)
Baton Rouge (Baton Rouge, LA)
Albequerque Public Schools (Albequerque, NM)
Garland ISD (Garland, TX)
St. Lucie Public Schools (Port St. Lucie, FL)
School District U-46 (Elgin, IL)*
Lake District Schools (Tavares, Fla.)*
Norfolk Public Schools (Norfolk, VA)*
Carroll County (Westminster, MD)*
Beaverton School District (Beaverton, OR)
Bossier Parish (Bossier City, LA)*
Plano ISD (Plano, TX)*
Mansfield ISD (Mansfield, TX)*
Evergreen Public Schools #114 (Vancouver, WA)*
Salem-Keizer (Salem, OR)
* Latest available data.
Average No. of Buses Per District
Average % of Buses Per District Used in Daily Route Operation
Average % of Buses Per District Operated by Contractors
Average Student Passengers Per District
Total Annual Route Miles Driven by Responding Districts
Average Annual Route Miles Driven by Responding Districts
Average No. of Bus Drivers Per Responding District
Average Starting Hourly Pay for School Bus Drivers
Get the full report in print and digital editions of November's School Bus Fleet magazine!