‘Not too bad’: Nick Monacelli test drives Utica school bus amid driver shortage

Utica Community Schools hopes to encourage applicants with school bus test drive event

Utica Community Schools is hosting a "drive a bus" event to encourage the community to come out and see just what driving a school bus is like. The hope: That some will find it easy and apply amid a widespread school bus driver shortage.

Right now, school bus drivers are in high demand and low supply across Metro Detroit.

The bus driver shortage has placed many districts in a difficult position, forcing them to cancel bus routes and/or readjust their pick-up and drop-off schedules.

More: Some Metro Detroit school districts forced to cut bus routes amid shortage of drivers

Tons of districts are hiring, but not many are seeing applications. One local school district thinks that people may be afraid to apply because they are intimidated by driving such a large vehicle.

Local 4′s Nick Monacelli teamed up with Utica Community Schools (UCS) to test drive one of their buses -- and he found that it wasn’t too difficult.

Brian Laporte, head of transportation for UCS, says the trick with driving a school bus is thinking about and becoming familiar with the size of the vehicle, and how to utilize all of the mirrors. Otherwise, the bus operates much like regular cars do, Laporte says.

See the test drive in the video report above.

After driving around a parking lot in the school bus, Monacelli says the task wasn’t as daunting as he thought -- but that’s the primary problem Laporte says UCS is facing: People don’t think they’re capable of driving a bus.

And that’s why the school district is hosting a “conquer the bus” challenge, in which anyone can come take a school bus for a spin and feel how it actually drives.

UCS’ drive a bus event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 in the area of their auxiliary services facility in Sterling Heights (6600 18 Mile Road). For those interested in applying for a bus driver role, the pay starts at $21 an hour, health benefits are available and training is provided.

You can learn more about available positions with UCS on their website here.

Related: Labor shortage: Why it’s happening and what can be done

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.