The nationwide school bus driver shortage drives into Rapid City

A shortage of school bus drivers caused the Rapid City Area School District to  cancel a number...
A shortage of school bus drivers caused the Rapid City Area School District to cancel a number of bus routes.(KOTA/KEVN)
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 7:07 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With Rapid City Area Schools heading back to the classroom next Tuesday, the national school bus driver shortage is hitting home.

In a Facebook post earlier this week, the Rapid City Area School District announced that it will cancel certain routes amid a struggle to find bus drivers. The driver shortage isn’t unique to Rapid City, as schools across the nation struggle to find drivers with many former drivers retiring or resigning from the profession.

“We hoped that our situation would improve over the summer, it didn’t improve we actually had several more drivers resign or retire, and so we are entering this school year back in a major driver shortage, and as a result had to cancel three routes again not indefinitely, canceling them initially for a two-week period then reassess,” said Coy Sasse, director of business and support services for Rapid City Area Schools.

The canceled routes during the two weeks at the start of the school year are Bus 217 to Knollwood Elementary, Bus 617 to Wilson Elementary, and Bus 311 to North Middle School.

Another challenge with hiring drivers is that many applicants for the positions must still be trained.

“The challenge, I think of making sure we are filling those positions is the state in which applicants come to us, so often times applicants will come to us without a CDL (commercial driver’s license), we will employ them throughout their training process and throughout the certification and licensing process but that can take a four-to-six-week period,” said Sasse.

Sasse says Rapid City’s Youth Ride Free program could be a potential solution for families affected by bus routes cancellations.