Editorial: Wanted — a few good bus drivers

Are you retired or do you have some free time on your hands and want to make some extra cash? Are you a good driver? Do you like being around kids? If the answer to the above is yes, we have a job for you.

As the calendar turned to August, and school officials begin ramping up in preparation for students’ return to the classroom next month, a persistent annual need is that of more bus drivers. While, inevitably, they tend to find enough people to do the job, this year there is concern among Carroll County Public Schools officials and the bus contractors that they’ll need more part-time and substitute drivers.


Why? Earlier this year, the state legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, more commonly referred to as the paid sick leave measure. This legislation provided part-time employees of companies with 15 or more employees with a certain number of paid sick and safe leave hours.

Bus drivers will be able to take more time off as a result, although the full impact in Carroll was not precisely known — CCPS Director of Transportation Michael Hardesty said he’s awaiting more data from bus contractors on the results of mandatory paid sick leave — it’s imperative contractors have enough substitutes to fill in when necessary.

Part-timers and substitutes don’t even have to do regular routes. Some drivers only work transporting schools’ sports teams to games and meets, taking kids on field trips during the day, or picking up any weekend trips. Others may only do a morning route or an afternoon route. Still others might only work a few times during the year when needed.

Contractors, for the most part, are happy to establish a cadre of drivers they can call on when the need arises, and work within the drivers’ schedule.

In order to become a bus driver, you must be 21 or older, with no evidence of criminal history and pass a drug test and a physical examination. Drivers also need a commercial driver’s license with passenger and school bus endorsement, no more than two current points on their license and a satisfactory past driving record. Many contractors will pay the cost of obtaining a CDL for drivers they are sponsoring. There is also a 2½-day in-service training session prospective drivers must complete, regardless of if they are full-time, part-time or a substitute.

Almost as importantly, though, you should like to be around children. Having the right disposition to deal with students while maneuvering a 40-foot bus is crucial. Contractors, like Carol Johnson of Johnson Bus Service LLC, tell us that many of the drivers find a lot of fulfillment in the job, and enjoy watching students grow up and graduate.

If driving a school bus sounds like a job you’d be interested in, we encourage you to contact Dianne Grote with the Carroll County School Bus Contractors Association at 410-848-4649 or the Carroll County Public Schools Transportation Services Department at 410-751-3229 to find out what positions are available and learn more.