Nation's School Districts Struggling to Attract Enough Bus Drivers

As the economy has improved, fewer people are looking for employment as school bus drivers. When fewer buses are available, more students drive to school, brining unwanted environmental risks along for the ride.

April 5, 2017, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

School Buses

JohnPickenPhoto / Flickr

An interactive feature in The Wall Street Journal examines the challenges created by a shortage of school bus drivers all over the country.

The effects of Wake County, North Carolina's school bus driver shortage, as an example, are obvious, writes story author Valerie Bauerlein:

In the last three years, Wake County has cut one in five bus routes, bumped children off the bus who live within a mile of their school, required others to walk further to the bus stop, and now is considering starting some schools earlier in the morning.

Wake County's driver shortage has grown into a crisis as the fast growing county has added 160,000 pupils in the last decade (a growth rate of 25 percent), while the number of bus drivers has declined by 18 percent.

The problem isn't unique to Wake County, however. "Roughly 90% of 231 school districts in a School Bus Fleet magazine survey last fall said they were short on drivers," according to Bauerlein. School districts are having a hard time competing in the labor market as wages rise and unemployment drops around the country.

The article includes high quality images, audio clips, and a lot of personal testimony to explain and illustrate the scale of the school bus driver challenge facing the nation's school system.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in The Wall Street Journal

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