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Premier Wireless to host Emergency Connectivity Fund webinar

UniteGPS – School transportation leaders are invited to attend an upcoming webinar on Wednesday, April 27 organized by Premier Wireless! The purpose of this event is to inform district officials about available resources from the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) equipping communities with transportation technology ranging from bus Wi-Fi, GPS routing solutions, parent apps, camera systems, etc. Simply […]

First Student wins grants in six states to launch electric school buses 

First Student wins grants in six states to launch electric school buses 

UniteGPS – Even private transportation companies can tap into federal funds for clean energy following the announcement of First Student winning grants in six U.S. states to introduce electric school buses into its operations. The largest private student transportation company in the country collaborated with school districts in California, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, and Rhode […]

Why school transportation directors need support more than ever

UniteGPS – Every day we at UniteGPS work closely with school transportation directors using our routing software in districts from across the country. The more we collaborate with these mobility experts and diligent leaders, however, the more we realize that this role is one of the riskiest jobs in the entire school transportation industry.  There’s […]

Update: Colorado Senate approves $5 billion student safety bill

UniteGPS – No longer postponed, last week the Colorado Senate finally approved $5 billion in initial funding for a comprehensive student safety bill. In February the UniteGPS team covered the early stages of Bill SB22-085, now known as Anna’s Law in remembrance of 11-year-old Annaliese Backner run over by her own school bus this past […]

Louisiana Senate review bill to increase school bus driver wages

Louisiana Senate review bill to increase school bus driver wages

UniteGPS – Today the Louisiana Senate Finance committee will deliberate a bill that could potentially increase pay rates for school bus drivers in the Bayou State. Drafted by Louisiana Senator Patrick McMath, the passing of Senate Bill 57 would boost the compensation rate for miles driven according to the number of passengers. So, bus drivers […]

Lansing School District invests in gas cards and city bus passes for students

Lansing School District invests in gas cards and city bus passes for students

UniteGPS – For some communities, dispersing gas cards and city bus passes to students amidst a bus driver shortage is actually a viable solution to today’s hiring woes. Not having to adjust routes schedules and pickup times as often, Lansing School District in Michigan is one place investing in this strategy. So far this year, […]

Spokane Public Schools strategize new solutions for bus driver shortage

UniteGPS – Board members at Spokane Public Schools in Washington have proposed a series of new short-term solutions for ongoing hiring challenges in the transportation department.  Far from perfect for both drivers, students, and parents, these measures include potential earlier pick-up times and reduced bus stops. In turn, this means that more students would be […]

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona meets with Maine bus drivers 

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona meets with Maine bus drivers 

UniteGPS –  This past week, Maine bus drivers at the Regional School Unit 21 (RSU 21) in Kennebunk received a special visitor: U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. The White House cabinet member met with local bus drivers and transportation leaders on April 11, 2022, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 relief funds on student […]

New York makes progress with electric school bus legislation

UniteGPS – New York State is approaching a new era for school transportation with its historic electric school bus legislation. In case you missed it, Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration reached an agreement with lawmakers to include electric school bus implementation within the annual State Budget. According to a press release from April 7, 2022, Hochul’s […]

Over $1 billion available for districts to install school bus WiFi 

UniteGPS – Did you know that U.S. districts can apply for funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to install school bus WiFi and other broadband technology? Part of the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), the first round of applications began on July 1, 2022. Now the FCC will soon open its third cycle from […]

Louisiana transit leaders hesitant about lowering bus driver age to 18

UniteGPS – Seeing how New Jersey lawmakers recently drafted a bill to allow 18-year-olds behind the wheel of school buses, it may only be a matter of time until other states start to pursue similar legislative changes. Yet Louisiana transit leaders are wary about the potential legal and safety complications based on the proposal. On […]

School bus driver age

New Jersey senators propose lowering minimum school bus driver age

UniteGPS – On Tuesday, April 5, New Jersey Senator Edward Durr spoke with Bill Spadea broadcasted over WKXW (101.5 FM) to discuss new legislation aiming to lower the minimum school bus driver age to 18. During this three-minute discussion, the New Jersey lawmaker touched upon what UniteGPS has been advocating all this time: changing the […]

FMCSA extends under the hood waiver for CDL training

UniteGPS – New school bus drivers have a little less to worry about following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extending the under the hood waiver of the CDL training effective April 1 until June 30, 2022.  One of the first states to take advantage of this extension was New Jersey. On Monday, April […]

Rebates for electric school buses en route to Missouri districts

UniteGPS – North Callaway R-1 School District is one of 11 communities in Missouri eligible to receive up to $535,000 in rebates to purchase 26 electric school buses through the federal government, according to the Fulton Sun. With each electric school bus costing up to $20,000, the school district is currently deliberating whether to accept […]

ELDT curriculum tips for school districts and transit companies

UniteGPS – This past week the UniteGPS team received an interesting inquiry from a partner asking about the new ELDT curriculum that’s worth sharing. Specifically, this person expressed concern about covering the ELDT costs for prospective bus drivers without having any guarantee of the employee actually coming back. “How are the ELDT requirements affecting other […]

Sacramento City Unified School District reviews stop-arm camera pilot

UniteGPS – Sacramento City Unified School District is the latest community to take meaningful measures against the propensity of vehicles passing buses while students board or disembark. Motivated by legislation in Indiana and Minnesota, the California district launched a stop-arm camera pilot from November 2021 to February 2022 in collaboration with BusPatrol to better gauge […]

DC taxi drivers

Agencies offer grants to DC taxi drivers to learn school bus operations

UniteGPS – DC taxi drivers can obtain their CDL and learn how to operate school buses thanks to current initiatives happening around the U.S. capital city. Department of For-Hire Vehicle (DFHV) The first is $245,000 in new funding from the Department of For-Hire Vehicle (DFHV) in the U.S. capital. According to a press release from […]

Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools ensures 12-month contracts for bus drivers

UniteGPS – Prospective bus drivers at Tulsa Public Schools can expect heightened job security thanks to the district providing year-round contracts to new hires. When it comes to solving the issue of limited full-time working opportunities perpetuating the shortage of bus drivers, this community may have found the answer. Bus driver contracts at Tulsa Public […]

Fuel costs for school districts

Sky-high fuel costs create more roadblocks for school transit

UniteGPS – From California to North Carolina, rising fuel costs have created more roadblocks for school districts struggling to sustain student transportation. Between driver testing backlogs, the debilitative driver shortage, and the lingering effects of COVID-19, the skyrocketing price for diesel isn’t making life any easier for communities. One recent story from KGTV in Poway, […]

Type A electric bus

GreenPower unveils Nano BEAST Type A electric bus

UniteGPS – School districts shopping around for a Type A electric bus just got a brand new option with GreenPower Motor Co.’s Nano BEAST. Meaning “Battery Electric Automotive School Transportation,” this vehicle is among the latest electric bus models en route to the market. “The Nano BEAST offers unprecedented levels of safety and reliability for […]

Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia hires bus drivers

Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia hires 200 new bus drivers

UniteGPS – Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia made progress this month in overcoming its driver shortage after onboarding 200 new bus drivers to the transportation staff. Originally covered by NBC 12, this is a substantial improvement for the district after beginning the 2021-2022 school year with 100 driver vacancies. Leading up to this, Chesterfield […]

Driving test backlogs

DMV driving test backlogs fuel hiring shortage for school districts

UniteGPS – Here’s a new factor to consider when approaching the national driver shortage: DMV driving test backlogs. This past month, a reporter from WRAL Investigates published an intriguing story in which a central North Carolina community with over 400 driver job vacancies went directly to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for answers. […]

Bus driver shortage

Bus driver shortage still top priority for private contractors, according to survey

UniteGPS – The bus driver shortage remains a top priority for private contractors according to a recent survey conducted by the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). The Pennsylvania-based agency collaborated with Transfinder, a subsidiary of Transfinder Corp. known for its routing and logistics software, to facilitate the study from March 7-14.  “This NSTA poll validates […]

School bus driver program for teenagers

Petition: Urge districts to create a school bus driver program for teenagers

UniteGPS – Picture this: a competitive two-year student bus driver program for teenagers where juniors and seniors gain the skills and credentials to operate a yellow bus. Not only would students apply to this vocational course hoping to earn a monthly stipend but also receive the opportunity to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for […]

Opinon for student driver programs

Opinion: Why school districts should reimplement student driver programs

Could the reintroduction of student driver programs from the 1950s be a meaningful solution to the hiring shortage? UniteGPS – We at UniteGPS have a vested interest in helping school districts overcome the growing bus driver shortage. Over the years, we have seen that most hiring solutions coming from communities as well as state and […]

Louisiana school district allows teachers and counselors to be bus drivers 

Louisiana school district allows teachers and counselors to be bus drivers 

UniteGPS – The latest community to combine roles in response to bus driver hiring shortages is the Louisiana school district, Webster Parish School Board. Officials approved full-time teachers and counselors to cover school bus routes this past week, according to the Minden Press-Herald.  Navigating through murky waters as far as bus driver staffing goes, the […]

Chicago Public Schools 1

Chicago Public Schools ups transport for students with disabilities

UniteGPS – Last month Chalkbeat Chicago reported that the Chicago Public Schools has launched new efforts to better accommodate students with disabilities affected by the bus driver shortage. The district now claims to have “met its obligation” to ensure route coverage for special needs students. Halfway through the course year, however, over 1,000 general education students […]

NYC parent group

NYC parent group launches campaign to improve transport for special needs students

UniteGPS – Never underestimate the power of concerned parents in seeking legislative action to tackle the bus driver shortage while supporting students with special needs. Certainly worthy of news coverage, the UniteGPS team is elated to write about an NYC parent group currently vying for a school bus “Bill of Rights” to benefit both students […]

Rural districts eye students to resolve bus driver shortage

UniteGPS – Is age nothing but a number in response to today’s bus driver shortage? Some school transit officials from rural Midwest districts believe that attracting younger demographics could be a viable solution for today’s hiring hurdles. “The fact of the matter is that 16-year-olds are fresh out of training, they’ve done the behind the […]

New Jersey lawmakers draft bills to ease school bus driver shortage 

New Jersey lawmakers draft bills to ease school bus driver shortage 

UniteGPS – Legislators in New Jersey recently drafted two comprehensive bills to better support districts in confronting the school bus driver shortage. Behind these legislations are Senator Robert W. Singer as well as Assemblymen Sean T. Kean and Ned Thomas from the 30th Legislative District, intending to help communities fill routes, transport more students, and […]

White House releases memo outlining electric school bus funding

White House releases memo outlining electric school bus funding

UniteGPS – To accelerate the adoption of clean energy within the public transit sector, the Biden-Harris Administration released a fact sheet on Monday, March 7 outlining actions to support state and local government agencies in accessing electric school bus funding. After months of anticipation, this was the White House’s first formal announcement of new energy […]

Louisiana school bus drivers stage wildcat sickouts

Louisiana school bus drivers stage wildcat sickouts

UniteGPS – Growing concerns over low pay and stressful workloads have prompted dozens of unionized Louisiana school bus drivers to stage sickouts over the past weeks. On March 3, dozens of bus drivers in Jefferson Parish Schools District called out sick prior to picking up students at the scheduled time, impacting over 64 routes. Another prior […]

Drivers at Fayette County Public Schools serve as substitute teachers

UniteGPS – Not only are U.S. school districts having difficulties in retaining bus drivers but also teachers. While educators have sometimes volunteered to go behind the wheel because of the hiring shortage, officials at Fayette County Public Schools in Georgia are preparing drivers to serve as substitute teachers in hopes of preventing classrooms from going […]

Apple Bus Company in Missouri acquired by First Student

UniteGPS – First Student continues to become the largest charter school bus enterprise in the nation after recently acquiring Apple Bus Company. Facilitated by BMO Capital Markets, on Feb. 24 First Student signed a purchase agreement to acquire the Missouri-based provider from Great Range Capital. Despite recent lawsuits in Washington state, First Student still manages […]

Bus driver appreciation isn’t just about the money 

UniteGPS – Higher wages, sign-on bonuses, and health benefits are among the most common incentives school districts deploy to attract new bus drivers during today’s unprecedented hiring shortage. Yet what’s ultimately missing from the equation at times is bus driver appreciation. Certainly more subjective than clear financial strategies, the term “appreciation” encapsulates how students, faculty, […]

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