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Council Bluffs looking for bus drivers

Posted: 12:45 PM, Jul 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-31 09:07:54Z
Council Bluffs looking for bus drivers
Council Bluffs looking for bus drivers

The countdown to school is on as area districts prepare for the return of students, but there's a bit of a curb when it comes to getting them to school.

A national trend shows there's a school bus driver shortage, according to student transportation company First Student.

A lot of it has to do with the fact the bus is large, said Lisa Foust, a local manager with the organization.

She says the Council Bluffs area is looking for about 20 drivers.

To spark interest,  First Student  parked a school bus at the Mall of the Bluffs and held the "Big bus, no big deal" event Monday morning.

Applicants, whether with a commercial driver's license or not,  had the chance to get behind the wheel and experience what it's like to drive a 40-foot bus. A trainer oversees the demonstrations of making right-hand turns and a serpentine around cones.

 

The bus company even offers a program to help parents offset daycare costs with the Bring Your Student to Work program, Foust said.

As long as a child is old enough to ride in a car seat facing forward, parents can bring them along.

Eric Chamberland switched careers 10 months ago and has never hit the brakes.

"It is hard, but it's always very rewarding because of the precious cargo that we are taking to school every day," Chamberland said. " I take my job very [seriously] and I enjoy it. I love meeting new kids every day and it's very rewarding. I love the smiles that I see every morning. I love being able to get them to school to further their education."

He's one of 65 bus drivers in the fleet.

The shortage is felt across the river.

Student Transportation of America  is offering a referral service for current drivers and a sign-on bonus along with a hiring bonus for all new applicants, according to David Prince, vice-president of operations.

Foust says her bus company doesn't offer similar incentives.

When asked how does First Student standout from competitors pulling from the same talent pool, Foust told 3 News Now it boils down to morale and local culture - highlighting a recent family picnic for families.

"My drivers truly care about what they do," she said. "They care about their students and they bleed yellow."