Merriam-based school bus company holds job fair, seeking bus drivers at height of shortage

MERRIAM, Kan. -- They're entrusted to carry kids to and from school.

However, there's a shortage of school bus drivers across the nation. Here in the Kansas City metro, one bus company is doing its part to find new drivers to put behind the school bus wheels.

It`s a job that can lead to a world of opportunities, especially for those who seek part time work. DS Bus Lines says it`s seeking 10 new bus drivers to help with its school bus fleet for the Shawnee Mission School District. As of the noon hour, managers here say they hired five new drivers, but while our cameras were at their Monday morning job fair at the noon hour, turnout seemed low.

In mid-2017, the magazine School Bus Fleet said the shortage of qualified drivers was at a severe point. That's why managers at DS Bus Lines held the job fair, in hopes of attracting qualified applicants, who are able to drive dependably and pass background checks. DS Bus Lines operates 220 buses out of its Merriam-based garage.

The low turnout came as a surprise to Brian Rodas. The Los Angeles native says he's a second-generation bus driver, who was hired only a few days ago, and he's still finishing training for the job.

"You pick up your Chauffeur's Driver's License. That opens up a lot more windows for you," Rodas said on Monday. "It's good money. It's really good money. It opens up a bigger avenue to work."

Rodas, 23, says he wants this job to lead him into a career as an over-the-road truck driver. As a driver with DS Bus Lines, he'll take ownership of one of 189 bus routes the company operates.

"You're kind of helping out the kids. It's not just driving the gen-pop of all high schools. You're driving the special needs kids too," Rodas said.

Managers at DS Bus Lines blame the economy, and a low unemployment rate, for the lack of qualified applicants. He says the low turnout for the job fair isn't as bad as it seems.

"As with most transportation industries, school bus is not immune to the number of drivers who are needed," Sean Burns, contract manager with DS Bus Lines, told FOX 4 News.

"It's probably one of the most important things we can do for the district. Some students don't have transportation or they may have to walk a long way," Burns added.

D-S Bus Lines managers also said they`re still seeking five more drivers. If you`re interested, visit their office at 5519 Merriam Lane in Merriam, Kan. School begins on August 10th for students in the Shawnee Mission School District. That's only six weeks away.