With the new school year just ahead, the HISD Transportation Department is taking every measure to ensure safe, reliable, and punctual transportation for students.
To reach this goal, HISD Transportation remained busy all summer searching for the best candidates to join its nationally recognized team. The department supports the student’s educational day by providing safe, professional, and efficient transportation to and from school, educational field trips, athletic competitions, and events.
Coordination of these events requires a strong staff of professional bus drivers with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and a competent support staff. In addition, drivers and support staff take pride in safety and efficiency, with HISD ranking as one of the best fleets in the nation.
“Typically, half of the applicants will pass the necessary components required to become a school bus driver, including a drug screen, physical, background check, the Texas commercial driving permit (CDL with P/S endorsements), and behind-the-wheel training,” said HISD Transportation General Manager Nathan Graf.
The department provides free school bus driving training to interested candidates. Also, every driver hired receives at least 30 hours of paid training throughout the school year and will be eligible for financial incentive payments. With free training and competitive wages, drivers will have the necessary tools to succeed.
“As in previous years, we expect that every route will be covered by bus drivers on the first day of school,” Graf said. “Our goal right now is building up our cushion of back-up drivers.”
Some of the recruitment efforts over the summer included:
- At the beginning of June, HISD Transportation teamed up with more than 40 community organizations to let them know about our need for bus drivers. These organizations include United Way of Houston, the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, Houston League of United Latin American Citizens, the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chinese Community Center, Vietnamese Civic Center, and many others.
- Throughout Houston, HISD circulated 80 school buses with a bus recruitment ad on the side in both English and Spanish.
- Four mobile recruiting buses were used during the summer months to go out into communities and hire bus drivers on site. Some of the many locations visited included the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce, Jewish Community Center, Sunnyside Multi-Service Center and Houston Community College. Additionally, HISD Transportation visited over 150 locations throughout Houston.
- School bus driver hiring literature was translated in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Arabic.
- Hiring billboards were placed throughout Houston. These billboards are in English and Spanish.
- Weekly recruiting ads were placed in newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, La Voz, Defender, Southern Chinese Daily, Vietnam Post, La Information, African American News and Issues, and Houston Style magazine.
- Postcards promoting our job fairs were mailed to all District employees.
- As of August 2015, the department has more than 160 applicants in training, compared to August 2014 when the department had about 40 applicants. Due to the large number of candidates, HISD Transportation stepped in to assist the HISD Human Resource Department in processing applicants.
- Care packages were sent to all current HISD bus drivers, which included a reminder of the department’s $100 referral incentive for recruiting new bus drivers. The care package was also a way to encourage current HISD bus drivers to return.
- During the month of August, three job fairs will be held throughout Houston in which candidates can be hired on the spot.
Hiring incentives highlighted during recruitment efforts incude:
- $250 sign on bonus for bus drivers
- $900 attendance incentive for bus drivers and attendants
- Free training
- Competitive hourly wages starting at $15.40
(guaranteed minimum of 5 hours per day)
- Health, dental, vision and other benefit options
- Teacher Retirement System participation
- 403(b) retirement plan option
- Special trip pay options
- Referral incentive bonuses
The Transportation Department is the largest single district provider of school bus service in the state of Texas. The department employs more than 1,200 employees and operates roughly 1,000 buses. It uses 850 buses to transport about 31,000 students to and from school daily. The HISD bus fleet travels more than 80,000 miles per day and about 18 million miles annually.