Richland 2 Seeks Bus Drivers

COLUMBIA (Jan. 12, 2017) – Because of the increasing difficulty in recruiting and retaining school bus drivers, last week the Richland Two Board of Trustees approved an incentive package that awards bonuses to the District’s bus drivers based on performance, and adds days to drivers’ contracts for professional development and training.

The move comes on the heals of an unusually high number of problems this year from bus shortages, driver shortages and mechanical issues resulting from an aging bus fleet, District Superintendent Debbie Hamm said in a statement released by the District.

“We are working diligently to find solutions to the issues and regret the inconveniences our families face due to the delays and changes to bus routes,” Hamm said.

“While we may not have much control over the age and number of buses provided to us by the state, we can make sure our bus drivers know they are a valuable part of the Richland Two Family and play an important role in supporting the mission of our district,” Board Chairman James Manning said.

During a press conference outside the State House on Monday, S.C. schools Superintendent Molly Spearman said the bus shortage is statewide and asked the Legislature for $95,000 to buy 1,000 new buses. The state’s plan to phase out older buses is not working, she said. Because some of the buses are nearly 30 years old, there are concerns about reliability, safety and the cost to tax payers to provide maintenance and fuel needed to keep the aging fleet going.

“School buses have gone to the bottom of the (Legislature’s) list” while setting spending priorities, Spearman said.

A District spokesperson said that Richland Two transports 14,000 students over 581 routes each day, beginning with the pick-up and drop-off of middle school students, then elementary school students and, last, high school students. The buses also provide service for a wide range of extracurricular activities including sports games, said District Two Superintendent Debbie Hamm.

The District has approved pay increases for bus drivers for the past two years and will soon evaluate new bus routing software to help improve efficiency. Hamm said transportation administrators post information daily to the Districts mobile app regarding delayed pick-up and drop-off times.

Anyone interested in driving a bus for Richland Two can complete an online application at richland2.org or call Dennis Jones at 803-736-3774.