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'Big Bus, No Big Deal' aims to shrink bus driver shortage

'Big Bus, No Big Deal' aims to shrink bus driver shortage
Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 12:41:43-04

HELENA — Following the COVID-19 pandemic, school bus drivers in Helena are in short supply. Dan Redford, location safety manager for First Student Helena said that this is about as bad of a shortage as he's ever seen and in order to carry out their routes effectively, they need more bus drivers. On Saturday, First Student took a step in recruiting new drivers with the event called 'Big Bus, No Big Deal,' where the company encouraged the public to give driving a bus a shot.

"This event is to actually show them that it's not a big deal. The bus, once you get up and get in the seat where you sit up high. We have the trainers that are going to ride with them and show them that it's not hard to drive a school bus, it's actually pretty easy," said Redford.

Though driving a school bus is no big deal, Redford did say that there are some key differences between the average vehicle and a school bus which averages over two times in length.

"They don't turn like a regular car or a pickup truck, you turn the wheel and they're so long here on the end. We have what's called tail swing, that we have to watch to make sure when we make corners at the back of our buses that we're not going to bump another car or stationary object,"

Driving a school bus isn't a full-time job, Redford said bus drivers can expect 20 hours per week of work, but for some folks that might just fit best.

“It's great for retirees, for supplementing their income. It's also very very good for... stay-at-home parents," said Redford. "If your child's over one year old, you can bring them on the bus.”

One of the added benefits of driving a school bus is the sense of community that comes with the job said Redford.

"You get to help out the community, you know? Driving school buses very rewarding. You get to know these kids you get to become -- almost call them your kids," said Redford. "Lots of drivers go, 'Hey, I don't want to I don't want to change routes because these are my kids,'" said Redford.

For more information on how to become a bus driver or when the next "Big Bus, No Big Deal" event is, please click here.