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Wisconsin School Bus Driver Shortage Expected to Get Worse

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024 -- 9:01 AM

(Danielle DuClos, Green Bay Press-Gazette) Last summer, more than half of school bus contractors were facing shortages of 6% to 15% in Wisconsin and nationwide, according to the Wisconsin School Bus Association.

According to Danielle DuClos with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, with fewer licensed drivers in the state than 15 years ago and a rapidly aging driver pool, the shortage is expected to only get worse, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum, a nonpartisan policy research group, found that the shortage is due, in part, to an 18% drop in licensed school bus drivers across the state since 2007.

"The data suggest school bus operations are being stretched thinner over time," the report said. In Wisconsin, school bus drivers can also drive city passenger buses, but passenger bus drivers cannot necessarily drive school buses.

Overall, there are more passenger bus drivers in the state than there are school bus drivers. There are more requirements and training to drive school buses, according to the forum's report.

To become a school bus driver, someone must first get their commercial driver's license, which includes training and testing on operating and maintaining a large vehicle, along with a health examination requirement.

They then must pass school bus-specific tests and continue to get health examinations. The Wisconsin Policy Forum's report found that training for both school and passenger bus licenses varies, with some programs taking 12 weeks and others as little as three.

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