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Shortage of School Bus Drivers in Massachusetts


Shortage of School Bus Drivers in Massachusetts

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School systems across the United States are facing a significant scarcity of qualified school bus operators. When educational institutions shut down during the peak of the pandemic, many drivers were placed on furlough, and some chose to retire from the profession entirely. With the return of students to face-to-face learning, the overall number of drivers has dwindled, as many continue to have concerns regarding the delta variant, mask mandates, and vaccination requirements.

The state of Massachusetts, in particular, is experiencing a critical shortage of drivers. In response, Governor Charlie Baker opted to address the shortfall by mobilizing the National Guard. In a recent press statement, Baker announced that up to 250 National Guard members would be enlisted to operate 7D vans, also recognized as “school pupil transport vehicles.” As of now, about 90 Guard members have completed training to drive in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.

When discussing this decision, Governor Baker stated, “Once it became apparent that certain communities were going to be understaffed – the issue wasn’t a lack of vehicles, but a shortage of people holding commercial driver’s licenses – we initiated discussions with the Guard.”

“Numerous communities have expressed interest in this assistance, and we are pleased to provide support as it is crucial,” added Governor Baker.

In response to the shortage of bus drivers seen in various cities and states, some have chosen to incentivize individuals to join the field through alternative strategies. For example, Montana is offering a $4,000 bonus to new drivers who sign up.

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