HAMPDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – As the start of school nears for students across the state, there are concerns in some areas about a lack of school bus drivers to get them there.
“You see ‘Bus Drivers Wanted’ ‘Bus Drivers Wanted’,” Melanie Van Aken said.
As the General Manager at John T. Cyr & Sons’ Hampden division, she said it is an issue that has become more and more common.
Cyr & Sons’ contracts with a number of school districts to provide transportation services. Van Aken said it is a problem they are facing company-wide.
“It's not just here in Maine it's across the country,” she said.
A federal study by the U.S. Departments of Education, transportation and Labor acknowledged a massive need for bus drivers all across the country with the expectation that it will continue to grow.
Van Aken said it is due to a number of factors, but that it primarily comes down to a lack of desire to train and the level of responsibility required.
"There's lots of opportunities around here for other jobs where you don't have so much responsibility,” she said.
Maine Departments of Education and Labor have even tried to address the issue with a new initiative to provide Veterans job opportunities through the Hire-A-Vet campaign.
“[It is a] chance for veterans to transition from serving their country to serving their community,” the Department of Education said in a statement. "The shortage of school bus drivers is both a national and state issue."
The Department claimed there are around 50 drivers needed across the state.
But Cyr, a private company, said they could not take advantage of that program.
“It just wouldn't have worked out the way they had it set up for a private company,” Van Aken said.
Although, like many companies and school districts, they do provide the training necessary.
"We train you. We pay to train you. We stand by you every step of the way,” she said.
With school just over two weeks away, she is out of time and needs qualified drivers now.
"It takes 8-12 weeks to train somebody up and we don't have 8-12 weeks to play with so yeah crunch time,” Van Aken said.