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Bus companies say they have enough drivers to cover routes across KC this school year

Posted: 7:02 AM, Aug 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-14 08:36:47-04

OLATHE, Kan. — Bus companies across Kansas City say they have enough drivers to make sure your child gets to and from school. 

First Student, Apple Bus and Durham all say recruiting, hiring and training has become a year-round job. Challenges include hiring someone who wants to work a part-time job and meets U.S. Department of Transportation requirements to drive. 

Nonetheless, districts and companies are confident every route is covered as the new school year begins. 

First Student serves 35,000 students at public schools in Kansas City, Olathe, DeSoto, Gardner, Edgerton, Lawrence, Park Hill, and Lone Jack.

The company says the safety of every child is critical no matter who is driving. After each route, drivers go through a two-step process to check the entire bus to ensure no child is left on board. 

The seats on First Student buses are designed to keep kids safe without seatbelts.

"It's like eggs in an egg carton," explained Darlene Davis. "If there is a child in the seat, they're seated with their knees in front, then they are protected by the seats. The seats nowadays are higher and thicker and covered. All the metal in a seat is padded."

Davis has reminders for parents and drivers. She encourages parents to get children to the bus stop five minutes early. She said children should stay 10 to 12 feet away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop. 

As for drivers, obey the red stop arm on the side of buses. Davis said even oncoming traffic needs to brake for buses, unless there is a median separating the traffic from the bus. Never pass a stopped bus on the right side. 

"Drivers are used to the summer hours where we didn't have quite as many buses in your neighborhood," Davis said. "You'll want to, if you're leaving your house normally at 7 o'clock, you may want to leave at 6:50 to give yourself enough time to adjust your route." 

Apple Bus serves St. Joseph, Hickman Mills, Independence, Spring Hill, Ray-Pec, and several rural districts. The operations manager said Apple Bus raised wages for drivers this year in an attempt to get more candidates. 

Durham serves roughly 6,500 students in the Blue Valley School District. DS Bus Lines transports students in the Shawnee Mission School District. 

Raytown employs its own drivers. This year, students will be able to connect to Wi-Fi on each bus. The internet service has the same restrictions as in schools.