JACKSONVILLE, Fla – One school transportation company is using a new approach to recruit new drivers during an ongoing shortage.
Student Transportation of America, which transports Duval County students to and from the classroom, is encouraging parents to sign up and become drivers.
Pete Conway is STA’s area general manager and says while the ongoing bus driver shortage is nothing new, safety has always been the priority.
“We can take a parent who’s never had any experience and turn them into a safe, productive bus driver in about eight weeks,” Conway said.
STA is looking to hire upward of 100 new drivers. Conway says STA offers paid training, which includes classroom and behind-the-wheel driving instruction. Parents can also earn up to $3,000 of a sign-on bonus.
The area general manager said to make it convenient for parents, their kids can even come to work with them, depending on their age.
“We are trying to tackle this from every possible angle,” Conway said. “Right now, we have multiple programs going on. We’re looking at the community to be part of the solution.”
Conway said a bus driver’s salary starts at approximately $16 an hour -- and that number can increase based on experience. He reiterates prior experience is not a requirement. While he couldn’t get into STA’s exact safety record, he says it is among the safest school bus companies in the industry.
Conway also said it’s a chance for parents to get involved in a way they likely never thought of.
“We like to say school bus driving has come to a point where it’s a local issue, down to each and every community,” Conway said. “If there’s a bus driver shortage, it’s affecting the moms and dads of that community. This allows those parents in that particular community to be part of the solution to the problem.”
Safety meetings are held once a month at the facility located at 5703 Commonwealth Avenue in Jacksonville. Parents interested in learning more about how to become a school bus driver can go directly to the facility.
“We’re hoping to have more bus drivers as soon as possible,” Conway said. “We think if we bring those drives on now, take our time to run them through our training program, they’ll be absolutely ready and prepared to begin next school year,” Conway said.
Potential new bus drivers can also head to their website for more information. They can also text “DRIVE” to 770770. They will then be directed to a link for more recruiting information.