BELLMAWR, N.J. (CBS) — School districts are having a hard time finding bus drivers during the pandemic. Some in the Delaware Valley have even resorted to paying parents to take their kids to and from school.
Bus companies are getting creative too by offering incentives. Holcomb Bus Company in Bellmawr, New Jersey has increased the starting pay to $22 per hour and is offering a $1,000 signing bonus.Police: Man, 2 Children Injured In Crash In Willingboro
Carolyn Johnson, a training instructor for Holcomb, or “Miss Carolyn” has been driving school buses for 15 years.
“I love driving,” Johnson said. “I have a little tiny baby that gets on every morning, she must give me a high five.
Johnson has fun, but she also knows her work is serious business.
“Our job is to get you home safely, get you to school safely,” she said.
It’s easy to see why Johnson, who said she can drive buses in her sleep, is also now training the newest crop of bus drivers.
“I put them behind the wheel right away,” Johnson said. “I don’t want them to get scared.”
Dominic Formelio is also an instructor at Holcomb.
After this, we’d go to the outside of the bus and talk about your crossover mirrors,” Formeilo said during a training session.Big Decision Looming For SEPTA Employees As Union Fights For Better Wages For Its Workers
When Formelio isn’t teaching, he’s driving double runs for Holcomb trying to get as many kids to school as possible.
“It’s a lot more stressful this year coming back,” Formelio said.
“We’re sitting at approximately 25 drivers short for our daily needs,” Salvatore Dani, Director of Operations of Holcomb, said.
“It’s great for retirees who just want to get back to work,” one woman said. “Do a little something part-time. It’s great for stay-at-home moms who want their holidays and weekends off.”
“We just need people who want to do this and show up every day,” she added.
Interested drivers need to be 21 years old with a New Jersey driver’s license and a commercial driver’s license.
Getting a CDL involves a three-part written test and a road test after 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training.
From start to finish, the whole process takes about eight weeks but once you finally get that CDL, you could be on your route as soon as the next day.
“It’s very rewarding work, you’re a big part of that child’s education,” Dani said.MORE NEWS: Flames Put Out After Tearing Through Mount Laurel Home
And you’ll be helping another industry struggling to navigate the twists and turns of this ongoing pandemic.