schools, bus drivers,
School buses parked on a lot in Stafford Springs Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

An association of Connecticut school bus operating companies kicked off a week-long recruitment campaign for new bus drivers on Monday as the state prepares for the next academic year with a shortage of drivers. 

As of Monday, the Connecticut School Transportation Association had about 1,000 bus driver vacancies across the state, according to Jean Cronin, the group’s executive director. Although shortages vary by company, Cronin said drivers are needed in most corners of Connecticut.

Busing companies are hoping to attract candidates by offering flexible part time hours with pay that starts at around $19 per hour and increases once a candidate is trained. Cronin said the job could appeal to people of all walks of life. 

“We’re trying to bring new people in, focusing on people looking for a second career that may be retired, college students that may be looking for part time work while they’re taking classes, parents with young kids because they can take their kids with them,” Cronin said. “That’s one of the benefits: you don’t need child care, you can bring your child with you.”

Most work days consist of two hours of driving in the morning and two hours in the afternoon with a break in the middle. Drivers can pick up additional hours by signing up to transport students to sports activities and field trips, she said.

“It can be 40 hours a week or it can be 20 hours a week,” Cronin said. “Whatever you want to do, we’re happy to be flexible.”

A similar driver shortage last year was compounded by an executive order from Gov. Ned Lamont, which, at the time, required bus drivers to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or consent to weekly testing in order to continue transporting students. 

Only about 100 bus drivers left the job as a result of the requirement, which is no longer in effect, Cronin said. 

This year’s recruitment campaign has also been eased by a quicker hiring process. While conducting a required background check on a driver candidate once took weeks, they can now be completed in one or two days, she said. 

“We can get drivers licensed in four to five weeks now instead of 16 to 18 [weeks],” Cronin said. 

Interested candidates should contact their school districts directly or visit COSTA’s recruitment website