- Schools are desperately finding new ways to transport students as the bus-driver shortage continues.
- One high school in Boston was forced to hire a party bus with a stripper pole to avoid canceling a field trip.
- Deluxe Limousine told Insider this was the first time the party bus company has been hired by a school.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Brooke Charter Schools in Boston was forced to hire a party bus to transport high schoolers to a field trip on Friday due to the bus-driver shortage, according to a viral tweet posted by English teacher Jim Mayers that has since been deleted.
Deluxe Limousine, the party bus company hired to drive the students, told Insider this was the first time it has been contracted by a school.
The 50-person Motor Coach was fully equipped with a dancing pole, show lights, a bar, and a top-of-the-line sound system, per the company website.
“We were booked one day before by the high school,” the owner of Deluxe Limousine said. “I suppose they couldn’t find anything else available … maybe that’s why the party bus company was the last chance to move these kids.”
He added that his party bus drivers make between $US30 ($AU41) and $US35 ($AU48). According to Indeed, the average hourly wage for school bus drivers in Boston is just under $US20 ($AU28).
Brooke Charter Schools declined to comment.
The bus driver shortage is one of the latest examples of the national labor shortage. Businesses large and small say they’re struggling to find staff, and some have gone as far as blaming a lack of desire to work. Workers, meanwhile, say they don’t need to take low-paying jobs in such a competitive labor market.
The students’ teacher Jim Mayers said the bus driver shortage “speaks to major flaws in our education system.” He emphasized that “this in no way is a reflection of anyone involved in planning the trip – we were trying to have a fun day with the kids and that’s exactly what happened,” according to The Patch.
In a written statement posted on Twitter after his original tweets went viral, Mayers said “if it’s gotten people talking about the overall infrastructure of our education system, and the different ways schools are prioritized, then that’s good too,” adding that people should “attend their next local school board meeting.”
Last week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker activated 250 members of the National Guard to drive school buses amid the shortage.
In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul has told state agencies to reach out to more than 550,000 residents who have commercial driver’s licenses to try to convince them to become school-bus drivers.
Other districts have raised driver wages and offered additional incentives such as signing bonuses.
Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia raised hourly pay by $US3 ($AU4) – from $US17.21 ($AU24) to $US20 ($AU28).21 an hour – and received “hundreds” of bus driver applicants, CCPS Director of Transportation Dr. J. Calvin Frye said.
Chesterfield County offers drivers two $US500 ($AU691) bonuses per year while a neighboring county recently announced bonuses between $US1,000 ($AU1,383) and $US3 ($AU4),000, WTVR reported.
According to The Patch, Mayers wrote in a now-deleted Twitter thread that schools should pay “all bus drivers, facilities, and operations staff a competitive salary & comprehensive benefits. Whatever you think is enough, double it.”