NRT Bus is one of the largest school bus transportation providers in Massachusetts. John McCarthy, its chief executive, told Yahoo Finance that his workforce was down 10% before the start of the school year. In this industry you always have the Help Wanted sign out, McCarthy said. But the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem so much Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he sent 250 National Guard members to drive school bus routes across the state to make up for the shortage of drivers.
A big challenge pre COVID, but nothing like this Last year was great for us. Some of these folks have gone on vacation 18 months ago. Gov. Eric Baker suspended in-classroom learning last year. During that time we believed we were going to get back sometime in the spring. When that didn t happen we pushed it into September, he says.
Then we went on a cohort type of situation where we did it based on how many kids we could get from school, so we probably about 60% of our staff was working. The other 40% for whatever reason whether they're re retiring or they found other jobs, he said.
The Guard will continue to drive my kids to school until permanent staffing is hired and trained.
McCarthy, who worked in the industry for 33 years, saw the governor s decision and praised National Guard members filling in the gaps as heroes
The National Guard exceeded this challenge and met my expectations. The National Guard is a special division of our armed forces. They could go from fighting for our freedom to rescuing people in floods, and now there is a new category — driving children. It is another way to call them heroes. These kids wouldn t be going to school without them.