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Bucking up for bus drivers

The need extends beyond school buses
Posted at 1:57 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 18:11:46-05

ANNAPOLIS JUNCTION, Md. — They log the miles on public buses, but as the demand for drivers went up, many with the Regional Transportation Agency serving Howard County sought more pay elsewhere.

“A lot of them went to Anne Arundel School Bus. Some of them went to Amazon. Just different positions---the highest bidder. You’re not going to stick around when bills got to be paid,” said Daryl Edwards.

Now, in a bid to keep drivers like Edwards on board and to attract new ones, the county is bucking up.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball says hourly wages will jump to $20 per hour and there’s more.

“We’re implementing a recruitment bonus of $3,000 paid in quarterly increments for the first year,” said Ball.

Existing drivers will also get $1500 bonuses.

In a bid to fill more than 30 vacancies of the 85 drivers it needs, the agency will also lower the minimum age to drive one of its buses from 21 to 19 years old, and it will look at eliminating some routes until more drivers can be hired.

After four years on the job, Daryl Edwards says the incentives could help keep him from looking elsewhere.

“It used to be a passion,” said Edwards, “Now, it’s a job, and when you do something that you’re passionate about, sometimes pay doesn’t matter, but now at the time, like myself, when you’ve got two young kids, you have to work two jobs so I’m hoping that they’re going to deliver what they said.”

The county executive says this is the slowest time for many routes, and he’s hoping those, which are discontinued don’t leave many residents with no way to get around.