We hire! New Jersey school bus companies seek new drivers due to shortage

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Bus companies are scrambling to fill a shortage of school bus drivers before the start of the new school year.

Anyone who may have thought of driving a school bus in the past can consider applying. Wages have increased over the past five years between 20% and 25%. Salaries can range between $25 and $30 per hour depending on where the position is located in New Jersey.

“I love my job. I would love to share this with other people,” says driver Julie Holzer.

Holzer drives with Villani Bus. She and her boss Courtney Villani were discussing the nationwide shortage of bus drivers.

“There was a national shortage of drivers before COVID, and it still persists,” says Villani.

The pandemic was a major reason why the shortage persisted. It’s a job that relies on retirees at a time when people were choosing not to work. Salary in the past was not always competitive. And not everyone likes the split schedule.

Villani is also a member of the New Jersey School Bus Contractors Association, which is currently conducting a hiring drive. They try to entice drivers not only with higher salaries, but also with health insurance and 401(k) plans.

Some businesses will be tight with drivers in September. A South Jersey bus company told News 12 that new drivers will make up 25% of their staff in the fall. These new drivers will also need more training.

Villani says her staff will be strong, but she says the company is always on the lookout for new drivers.

“Always interested in bringing new drivers through the door and putting them in good, capable hands and training them,” she says.

She says it’s a great job, not only for the benefits, but also for the influence one can have as a role model for school children.

“We tell anybody, ‘Come in and be that person that impacts somebody,'” Villani said.

There are certain requirements to become a bus driver. Applicants must obtain a commercial driver’s license and pass a drug test and medical examination every two years. Drivers over the age of 70 will have to take this medical examination once a year.

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