How a bus driver shortage affects Santa Monica, Malibu students

Santa Monica and Malibu students were greeted back to the school with packed buses and longer routes as their school district faces a shortage of drivers.

“I also lost passion for school bus driving,” said bus driver Steve Brown. “I don’t know, the pandemic did something to me.”

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District saw an exodus of drivers after many retired amid fears of contracting COVID or were lured away to other opportunities driving for Uber, Lyft and Amazon.

“Now I’m making more money here, I don’t have to go back to driving. That’s how the shortage came,” said Brown.

With fewer drivers, the district had only two buses covering six routes. Before, it had five buses able to cover the routes.

The shortage also forced the district to extend the routes and add more students on each ride. Prior to this school year, drivers said they would pick up around 30-40 kids on each route. However, with fewer buses, the number has increased to at most 60.

In addition to bus drivers, schools around the country — including the Los Angeles Unified School District — scrambled to hire more teachers after many left the field following the pandemic.



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