Since the beginning of the current school year, Monroe County Community School Corporation has been operating with a shortage of bus drivers. Two months into the semester, MCCSC Director of Transportation Gib Niswander acknowledges that the issue still exists.
“We still have a shortage. We are about ten drivers short of what our full staffing level would be,” he says.
And that ten driver deficit is having significant effects.
“The major impact is that different routes often do not run in a timely manner, or they don’t run at a scheduled time,” Niswander says. “Often times we have buses run late in the mornings and in the afternoons due to the shortage.”
To combat some of the issues present during the shortage, the MCCSC has implemented the Synovia Solutions GPS system in their routes.
“We utilize that primarily to track the location of our buses for safety reasons,” Niswander explains. “Also, we can give directions. We have a lot of new drivers, so sometimes when they’re learning routes, we can assist them with the roads and streets because we can watch them on our GPS screen.”
The GPS system is helping new drivers and has also been helpful for parents. Once they discover the features of the GPS system, parents of bus riders can use it to their advantage.
“It’s been very positive,” Niswander says. “Some of them are kind of surprised that we can check and know exactly when a bus arrives at a particular stop or at school because we get calls. The bus may have been late or maybe arriving at erratic times, and they don’t understand that we can quite easily check the consistency of a driver or the consistency of a route through the GPS.”
MCCSC has been hiring new bus drivers throughout the semester but is still understaffed.