With job shortages and a depressed economy, who knew it would be challenging for student transportation companies to find qualified drivers? This dilemma even affected First Student, Inc., the transportation company that supplies buses throughout —including back-to-school routes Tuesday.
A tip from a Eureka-Wildwood Patch reader alleged that out-of-state bus drivers arrived in town Monday, leaving "them no time to learn their (Rockwood) routes."
The reader also had heard some local Rockwood bus drivers had been sent elsewhere to make up for a shortage of bus drivers among the U.S. locations serviced by First Student.
Patch verified with a First Student representative on Tuesday they sent 13 of their drivers from the Rockwood area to Omaha, NE, where they were reportedly 100 drivers short. First Student spokesperson Timothy Stokes told Patch a change was prompted when 60 new bus routes were added to the Omaha plan.
To make up for the shortage of drivers in the Rockwood area, Stokes confirmed that 10 drivers from California were brought in to cover.
Despite rumors of not being prepared for new routes, Stokes said the drivers from California did make dry runs within their Rockwood area before driving them for the start of school. He also said First Student managers were pleased with the new drivers, and indicated they had not learned of any issues resulting from Rockwood routes on Tuesday.
A Patch reader indicated the belief was that the drivers from California are staying at in the city's town center.
Stokes said it was not the first time First Student had shuffled drivers to accommodate fluctuations, and that he did not know how long the bus drivers from California would be staying in Wildwood.
First Student purports to be North America’s leading school bus transportation services company, with a fleet of approximately 60,000 school buses transporting 6 million students to and from school every day.