Syracuse City Schools Navigating Bus Shortage Syracuse City Schools Navigating Bus Shortage

First Student offers incentives to become a bus driver at 'Walk-in Wednesday'

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — As the school year soon comes to an end, the city of Syracuse’s ongoing bus driver shortage remains. According to the Syracuse City School District, the number of bus drivers has gone down over the last decade, with the COVID-19 pandemic playing a pivotal factor.

The district announced Wednesday morning that they will continue their relationship with transportation contractor, First Student, for the next three years. First Student has received backlash for long wait times throughout the school year but has come up with new ways to replenish its fleet of drivers.

SCSD partnered with First Student earlier today to host a “Walk-in Wednesday” event that helps speed up the onboarding process for potential bus drivers. All who are interested to work with First Student must be over 21 years old and have had a valid driver’s license for three years. 

Head Regional Recruiter Robin Hansen was at the event from 10:20 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. and believes that there is no better time to join the First Student team.

“We want positive energy people,” Hansen said. “We don’t want those people that are just always sad because we’re dealing with the greatest natural resource on the planet, which is our children, and we want the person driving the bus to be able to greet them happily in the morning.”

First Student incentivizes potential drivers by paying for their commercial driver’s license. The company also will continue to renew drivers’ CDLs for the first two years they work. However, even with that desperate need for bus drivers, Hansen and the First Student team say they put safety first.

“It’s a process. I don’t care for 50 drivers down. You don’t get on the road until you’re fully credentialed,” Hansen said.

First Student will continue their “Walk-in Wednesday” event throughout the summer at the SCSD office on Harrison Street.


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