How Columbus City Schools plans to get around the driver shortage

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City School’s Transportation Department is sharing more on how they plan to get kids to school despite a driver shortage for the district.

This after the board of education voted on new streamlining software for bus routes. 

The Director of Transportation and Fleet Services says this will take multiple strategies, first and foremost recruitment. 

But also making the most of the number of drivers available for the start of the year. 

608 active drivers. That’s the busing staff Columbus City Schools is looking to start school with. 

In 2020 during the pandemic, the district faced transportation issues and could only fulfill roughly 550 bus routes. 

In 2019 — it had 704 total bus routes. 

“The goal is to ultimately reduce the number of those routes,” said Rob Weinheimer. He’s the Director of Transportation and Fleet Services.  

The board voted yes to spending 326 thousand dollars Tuesday for new routing software. 

“So, we looked at school proximity so if there are schools close to each other we can better route our buses to service both of those schools within a timeframe allotted so there are little areas within our mapping and our routing software where we can really get large gains fleet wide,” explained Weinheimer and his hopes for the software.  

NBC 4’s Karina Cheung to parents off camera, one said it’s hard to judge until the routes are finalized. 

Another said they opted out of yellow buses with concerns regarding ride time, length of routes, and occupancy levels on buses. 

As for new drivers — right now the district has 146 people working through the applicant and training process. 

“11 dollars per hour to 18.50 per hour to encourage qualified candidate to apply” said Terri Trigg, “but also bus driver pay starts at 19.88 per hour,” explaining the new wage increase.  

Weinheimer said, “We have people scattered throughout that process, various levels, just waiting on all their credentials to come back and we foresee this big group coming through to be ready by mid to late September.” 

Weinheimer says they’re still working on the routes. He did say those plans will be distributed to parents before school starts. 

The district is still looking for families who are able to opt out of yellow busing. The deadline on that survey is this Friday.

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