New York School Bus Contractor’s Association on Driver Shortages, Seat Belts and Ride-Hailing Services


n addition to being the the co-owner and co-general manager of Quality Bus Service, LLC, which operates four terminals in the Orange County region of New York northeast of Manhattan, Michael Martucci

serves as the current president of the New York State School Bus Contractor’s Association. As such, he sees and hears a plethora of issues impacting the business of student transportation. Recently, he shared with us how he sees the national school bus driver shortage affecting association members, as well as strategies that can be employed not only in New York, but industrywide to make the career of driv- ing the school bus more appealing to jobseekers. Martucci also discussed New York legislation that targets an update to the state’s existing school bus seat belt law by adding three-point lap/shoulder belts, along with concerns about rising insurance premiums and the increasing number of student ride-hailing services that possibly threaten to compete with school busing.

School Transportation News: What’s the current state of the driver shortage in New York, and especially among your members? Michael Martucci: We’re seeing some moderate

shortages throughout the state, and they vary depending on location. Te shortages, however, do not negatively impact our ability to provide safe and reliable transpor- tation for the over one-million students our members transport to and from school each day.

STN: What strategies can the industry as a whole pur- sue or improve upon to attract more driver candidates and retain them long-term? Martucci: Te most effective strategies focus on local hiring initiatives. In more suburban and rural areas this includes, but is not limited to, reaching out to volunteer fire and ambulance departments. After all, it’s always desirable to have drivers who live and work in the com- munities in which they serve. School-related groups, for example PTA’s, are also

fertile recruiting grounds as you have folks who are directly involved with their local school districts, enjoy working with children and have intimate knowledge of their community.

48 School Transportation News • JUNE 2016

compensation, including pay and benefits, are key com- ponents. It’s also essential to have a company culture that respects and appreciates them, along with top-level training programs and well-maintained and modern facilities and vehicles.

STN: Tere are several bills currently in the state legis-

lature on seat belts. What is NYSBCA’s feeling on if any law may eventually pass? Martucci: Providing the safest ride possible is the single most important thing we do as school bus con- tractors. Fortunately, New York is a bit further ahead of many states in that it already requires every school bus on the road to be equipped with lap belts. At this time, it is left to the individual school districts to decide whether their usage is required. New York is also recognized as an innovator and leader in school bus safety, and the state’s safety record, which includes all of our associations members, is outstanding. We do not foresee any change in current state laws.

Michael Martucci is the president of NYSBCA and is co-owner and GM of Quality Bus Service, LLC in Orange County, New York.

Establishing a solid relationship with local employ- ment agencies can be beneficial. Te network that exists within your company, your current employees, should also be utilized. Using traditional media, whether through radio, television, print advertisements and local news outlets for awareness (ex. Drivers Needed stories) can be effective tools too. Social media is also an area to pursue for outreach efforts. Our drivers are our most important asset, so retention

is very important to all of our members. Drivers need to know they are valuable and appreciated. Obviously, fair

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