Eugene schools face bus driver shortage: 'You start out at $14.60 per hour'

A 4J school bus parked at a Eugene School District bus driver job fair.

EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene School District is struggling to find bus driver applicants.

District officials said the challenges of the job have contributed to a nation-wide decline in drivers in the industry.

The district is looking for the right people to drive their 40-foot buses, which can hold up to 80 students.

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On Saturday the district held a school bus job fair, where candidates were able to test drive a school bus.

“I mean, once I got behind the wheel I was intimidated, because this is a big vehicle because I was like oh I’ve never done this. But then after one time around the track I was like ok this is something I can definitely do," said bus driver candidate Erik West.

District transportation officials say applicants are hard to come by: at any given time they have a minimum of 20 positions open.

They say it takes a special person to handle the split-shift schedule with the ability to manage 80 kids.

They do say, however, it's one of the most rewarding jobs you can find.

The district is interested in hiring someone who enjoys making a positive impact in the community, and having a rewarding influence on students.

“So our paid training on site is a minimum of 15 hours, and you'll be with a trainer and you'll learn how to pre-trip the bus, how to drive the bus, student management, first aid, all those different things,” said Nathan Misner Route Supervisor, 4J Transportation.

“Once you pass your training and your certification, you start out at $14.60 per hour. The schedule is a split-shift. You work about two-and-a-half…about three hours in the morning and then the same in the afternoon,” said Chris Ellison, Transportation Manager for the Eugene School District.

Candidates will have a physical test, and pre-employment drug screening which includes being tested for marijuana.

The bus driver position requires a Class-B commercial driver’s license with an air brake and passenger endorsement.

That requires additional training beyond the normal driver’s license, and the Eugene School District provides all the training and testing for that on their site.

There’s one more thing to note about the position:

“It is a very, very rewarding job,” said Ellison.

The Eugene School District will hold another hiring fair in May at South Eugene High School.

For more information about open driver positions, visit the school district website.

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