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'No End In Sight': Bus Driver Shortage Continues To Present Problems For Maryland Parents

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Many parents are in agreement. Grandfather Lawrence Walker said, "They need to hire more bus drivers to get the kids back-and-forth to school."

Another mom told WJZ, "My daughter goes to the Baltimore School of the Arts and she takes an MTA bus home every day and this week the bus hasn't shown up any of the days, so I submitted a complaint last night."

The nationwide bus driver shortage is very apparent in some Maryland counties. Out of 24 school systems here in the state, only three reported having enough drivers.

Walker's grandkids go to Harford County Schools and they seem to be taking the bus to and from school every day without a problem.

"They haven't had any issues or nothing like that, they catch the bus," he said.

In Baltimore City, however, "they are having problems," Walker said.

A presentation Wednesday during the Maryland House Ways and Means and Transportation committees notes up to 20% of routes in the state are not covered on a daily basis. Drivers have told WJZ they want fair pay.

"School bus drivers in Maryland are currently being paid, on average, $19-$20 an hour, which is considerably less than other class B driver's license holders," said Erin Appel, a representative for the Maryland Bus Drivers Contractors Association.

On average a bus driver in Maryland makes $19.45 per hour, which has not increased to account for the rising cost of living. WJZ first told you in September more than 50% of school districts in the United States said their driver shortage is 'severe' or 'desperate.'

Contractors are fighting for increased funding for transportation to satisfy drivers and keep them employed.

Gayle Reid, owner-contractor of Reid & Reid, Inc. in Calvert County said: "The salary increases we've ask for year after year have been turned down, until the drivers walked out. This is the first time that they've actually listened to us."

According to a recent study, more than 75% of students say they take the bus to and from school.

The MVA is trying to help get more drivers hired by holding commercial driver's license testing on weekends and at other convenient times when those drivers are ready to take the test.

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