DEPTFORD TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- As buses are cleaned and prepped for a new school year, many districts and companies are trying to ensure they have enough drivers.
"When the schools shut down due to the pandemic, it seemed like a good time for some of their drivers who were older to retire," said Pattie Cowley, administrator for the New Jersey School Bus Contractor's Association. "They just decided ok we've had enough."
The association says many transportation companies are still trying to catch up when it comes to hiring.
"At the same time they're trying to get the CDL testing through into the state of NJ, and there's a backlog there. So it's a little bit of a perfect storm right now," said Cowley.
The association has compiled job listings by county, which can be found here.
But some districts say they're in better shape than last year.
In Camden, the district offered families $1,000 to drive their children to school last school year.
This year the district has leased enough buses and hired enough drivers to bus all students, according to a district spokesperson.
Deptford Township schools had to adjust school start and dismissal times because of a lack of drivers last year.
This year, officials say they've contracted an outside transportation company to fill any gaps, and school hours are back to normal.
But the district is still looking to hire its own bus drivers.
Wages were raised last year to start at $23 an hour, and the district is offering bonuses up to $1,500 for drivers with good attendance.
Hillman's Bus Services in West Berlin has enough drivers for daily routes but needs more drivers for athletic events.
"I have a full staff. We could always use a driver or two more," said general manager Dan Hillman.
Hillman's has raised wages 30% since last school year.
In 2021 in New Jersey, the median salary for a bus driver was $18.83 an hour, with an average yearly salary of about $39,000.
Hillman's says they also offer training and guidance for those who need a CDL.
"We will offer you all the help in the world to get you behind the wheel and get these children to school safely," said Hillman.