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How the Experts Handle Driver Shortage
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How the Experts Handle Driver Shortage

Ask the Expert: Scott Parker, Senior Director, First Planning Solutions

Staffing shortages are impacting every industry and student transportation is no exception. It’s been estimated 90% of school districts and bus companies are experiencing driver shortages this school year.

Routing expert Scott Parker provides a few ways you can maximize your limited resources.

First Student bus driver driving students to school in a yellow school bus.

QUESTION: I am struggling to hire drivers. What options do I have to mitigate staffing shortages?

ANSWER: The short answer is by cutting down on the total number of routes you need, which reduces the number of drivers you need. Districts can ask themselves a few questions:

  1. When was the last time we analyzed our routes? This should be done multiple times throughout the school year as your student data changes.
  2. Is our routing based on eligible ridership or actual ridership? Many eligible students do not actually ride the bus. Routing to actual riders is an opportunity to reduce routes.
  3. How are we building our routes? If you’re building and maintaining routes manually, I strongly suggest using electronic software.
  4. Can we combine stops or extend our walk zones? Changes do not have to be done across-the-board. Strategically selected runs can make a big difference.

In addition to routing, there are a few other ways to alleviate your driver shortage.

White vans can add flexibility and cost savings to your fleet. In addition to being cheaper to purchase and run, in most states driving a van does not require a CDL. This greatly increases the potential driver candidate pool and can accelerate training times.

Some districts are also rethinking their bell times. Tiered schedules can cut down on the total number of buses and drivers needed daily. In addition to a routing analysis, my team can analyze and model the impact of various bell time plans. This allows districts to make strategic decisions that maximize resources and provide the best home-to-school experience for your students.

Scott Parker, Senior Director of First Planning Solutions.

About Scott Parker

Scott joined First Student in 2006 as a general manager for First Planning Solutions (FPS). In his current role as FPS senior director, Scott brings 25 years of progressive management and technical leadership to the organization. Every year, Scott and his team route more than 30,000 buses for 200+ school districts across North America.

Want Scott to reevaluate the routing efficiencies in your district? Email his team to get started today!

About First Planning solutions

Nearly 30 years ago, First Student established First Planning Solutions – a business unit devoted exclusively to helping districts manage all aspects of computerized routing more effectively. Today, the FPS team consists of almost 40 full-time routing professionals. FPS is highly proficient in all industry-leading routing solutions, including Edulog, Versatrans, Transfinder and BusPlanner. Unlike routing software companies and K-12 consulting firms, FPS has a long history of working in-step with our district partners to transition system-developed route schemes into efficient on-the-road operations. Find out more here.