Caddo coping with shortage of bus drivers

“So even if we’re 15 drivers short, we have to then become creative”
"We’ve been doing our very best to consolidate routes, dissolve routes and break them apart and...
"We’ve been doing our very best to consolidate routes, dissolve routes and break them apart and really moved from 291 routes to about 257 now just to become more efficient with less people,” said Jeff Roberts, Caddo public schools' transportation director.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — From the classroom to the driver’s seats, school districts throughout the country are seeing a shortage of workers. That includes Caddo Parish Public Schools.

“Right before the pandemic, there was a shortage then; and the pandemic only exacerbated that situation,” explained Jeff Roberts, transportation director for Caddo public schools. “When we came back after the pandemic shutdown in August 2020, we lost 35 drivers in one week that either retired or resigned.

“From that point, we’ve been doing our very best to consolidate routes, dissolve routes and break them apart and really moved from 291 routes to about 257 now just to become more efficient with less people.”

Roberts said age is another reason for the shortage.

“We do tend to have higher numbers of medical leaves, drivers out with surgeries and different things, health issues and retirement. So as we add five drivers and then we lose three to four to retirement, our net gain is one to two. So we’re always trying to hit that mark and just haven’t made it to that point yet.”

Roberts said the ideal number of bus drivers needed this school year is 280 compared to the nearly 250 drivers they have as of now. However, they’ve learned to work with what they have.

“We still have to run the routes. So even if we’re 15 drivers short, we have to then become creative,” he said.

“So our dispatch is currently working on that list of openings so that we can cover with the other drivers. So that’s a creative process where drivers have to run their route in addition to this route. Or we break routes up with different stops and assign different routes so that we can effectively move students on a timely basis.”

Roberts said that they have bus drivers in training right now and that they are continuing their efforts to recruit more.

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