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Bus driver shortage worsened by pandemic

The Apple Bus Company has been seeing a driver shortage that predates the pandemic according to management.

Posted: Oct 15, 2020 6:40 PM
Updated: Oct 16, 2020 9:49 AM

(ST. JOSEPH,Mo.) The Apple Bus Company is battling a driver's shortage made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

General manager Mark Alexander said he’s been in need of drivers before the pandemic.

"It's a challenge." he said. "It's something that we’re working on on a daily basis and we need good quality drivers."

Alexander said the virus has made staffing challenges even worse.

"Covid also added to [the shortage]," "Some of our drivers had underlying health issues and they decided to take a leave."

Apple Bus Company employs 68 full time drivers in St. Joseph, Alexander said he’s in need of fifteen more.

In addition to the small number of drivers, the pandemic is also shortening work hours for the company. The St. Joseph School District’s decision to move classes to a virtual format means the company now works only 4 days a week.

"The route and everything stayed the same, but now we’re only running Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday." Alexander said. 

The lost days in revenue are among Alexander's biggest challenges, though work does continue through the pandemic. Bus routes are longer to give staff time to clean and disinfect surfaces in between hauling students.

"We spray down all the seats, all the high touchable areas and everything to disinfect the bus between routes," Alexander said. 

The task is one of the few things the company can plan on, as the virus leaves so many other things up in the air.

"You look at it day by day," Alexander said. "We’re in an ever changing world today."

The bus company is looking to fill their open spots, Alexander said. New drivers recieve paid training and a $1000 sign on bonus. 

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A strong cold front has made its way into northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas bringing much cooler air and a lot of clouds across the area. Friday night and Saturday the cold air will continue to be in place with daytime highs only reaching into the 40's. As the weekend continues we will see increasing chances for rain and maybe some snow. A cold start to the beginning of next week with highs only in the 30's and 40's.
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