BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–First Student is looking to improve school bus transportation for students and families of Buffalo Public Schools.
General Manager of First Student Sean McCabe says they’re aware the service to this point in the school year is not what the community expects of them, nor what they expect of themselves.
“This has the full focus of First Student. We are confident this five-step action plan will improve transportation each day until we reach the level of service we all expect,” McCabe said.
To improve, First Student is bringing in 15 professional drivers from other areas to fill the shortage, at no additional cost to the district. Local drivers driving local routes will see an increase in starting wages from $16.40 to $19.07 an hour.
In an effort to keep experienced drivers and attract more experienced drivers, First Student is also increasing the top driver wage to $21.75 an hour.
An elevated series of wage increases will start in the 2020-2021 school year to continue to recruit and successfully retain drivers, according to First Student.
A series of sign-on incentives is included in their plan to improve, $500 for drivers with no experience, which includes paid training and $3,000 for professional drivers. Current employees who refer drivers will receive a bonus ranging from $500 to $1,5000.
On average, about 1% of the 617 routes First Student runs to and from Buffalo Public Schools has not had a driver. Other routes are doubled or other drivers pick up those students as a result.
“We understand the critical nature of our work and appreciate that, to a parent, one late route is one too many,” said McCabe. “We are optimistic that our action plan will overcome our challenges so we can provide safe and reliable transportation for the students and families of the district.”
First Student says they’re aggressively recruiting, with 20 to 30 candidates in training on a regular basis.