Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) are increasing attempts to hire students to be Bull Runner drivers due to driver shortages, according to Assistant Director of PATS Marie Bowen.
Effects of the shortage have been seen throughout Florida, extending from middle schools to universities. In Pasco County, school officials have attempted to fix the shortage by eliminating bus rides for middle and high school students living within two miles of their school, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Out of 117 transit agencies, a survey found that 71% reported they had to cut or delay services because of worker shortfalls, according to Bloomberg.
The driver shortage has affected college communities as commute times increase and routes and schedules are subject to change, according to Inside Higher Ed. Universities have been taking action by implementing stopgap measures. For example, Harper College in Chicago has made discounted Lyft rides available to students.
Shortages have been attributed to a loss in drivers during the pandemic and an increase in ridership afterwards, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Students who wish to apply must have a Florida driver’s license, at least one year of driving experience and be an active USF student, according to Bowen.
It is also encouraged that students who apply have at least one more year left at USF, according to Bowen. This is to ensure students have time to complete the required training process.
The department will perform a background check for university employees, as well as one on applicants’ drivers license, according to Bowen. Serious infractions, such as driving under the influence, would disqualify applicants. Drivers will also have to pass a drug and alcohol test prior to employment and random tests while employed.
Students who are hired will undergo a paid training to receive their commercial driver’s license, Bowen said. The training usually takes about two to three months to complete and testing will be completed by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. During these months, the drivers will not be transporting passengers in the buses.
All drivers are also assessed by outside companies to ensure safety and effectiveness, according to Bowen.
Drivers will be paid the federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, as well as receive a $1,000 bonus if they work for at least six months, according to Bowen. The funds will come from the PATS budget.
There are currently 10 students working in PATS, and three are in training, according to Bowen.
“One of the ways that we can invest in student success initiatives, from our perspective, is to hire students … It’s an environment where you get to learn here, grow here and work here,” Bowen said. “We’re just really ramping up because I think a lot of people are just not aware of it.”