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Permian Basin dealing with shortage of bus drivers

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 4:22 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Whether it’s public or school busses, there is a shortage of bus drivers in the Permian Basin.

Doug Provance, the General Manager for EZ-Rider says they currently have 35 drivers employed when they need at least 40 to run efficiently.

“There are a lot of people that rely on us for transportation. It really hurts when we have to pull drivers. We try not to pull any out of ADA paratransit because those are so critical so we end up shutting down a fixed route,” said Provance.

Both Midland and Ector County ISD are also feeling the shortage of drivers.

MISD currently has 73 school bus drivers and is five routes short, meaning some current drivers have to reconfigure their routes. In Odessa, ECISD says they have 12 driver vacancies to fill.

The districts say the current driver shortage isn’t the worst they’ve seen.

According to Provance, the shortage is happening all over West Texas and it’s likely caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s region-wide, I don’t want to sound like we have something special here we don’t. We got the same shortage everyone else does.”

Provance says drivers are having to work overtime, and they don’t have enough to fill in whenever a driver gets sick.

He says bus drivers are an essential service to the public, especially to those who are disabled and use public transportation on a daily basis.

“It’s serving the community and it’s something that we try to emphasize to people that you’re not just earning a paycheck here you’re helping the community out.”

Both EZ-Rider and the school districts say they are actively looking to fill their open positions.

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