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At 'bus rodeo', drivers test school buses in Missoula

Beach Transportation is hiring school bus crews
At 'Bus Rodeo' drivers test school buses in Missoula
Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 18:05:54-04

MISSOULA — Most of us remember riding the school bus, but a new opportunity in Missoula means you could sit behind the wheel.

With the start of school just around the corner, Beach Transportation is hiring for a handful of bus drivers and attendants.

On Saturday, the company held a Bus Rodeo to give interested applicants a chance to test drive the vehicle.

Scott Ammons has been driving buses in Missoula for four years. He said he wanted to dispel one misconception about the gig.

“It is way easier than it seems,” Ammons said.

A large majority of the school buses in the Missoula School District routes are fully equipped with seat belts. The vehicles are automatic transmission with hydraulic breaks.

The job is flexible and part-time - only a few hours a day. Drivers get weekends, holidays, and summer off.

Turns out, one of the biggest apprehensions of bus driving is the size, according to Beach Transportation General Manager Robert Mitchell.

“We're calling it ‘Big Bus, No Big Deal,’ and what we're trying to get folks to understand is that although the bus is a big vehicle. It's not as challenging as people might believe, to drive,” Mitchell explained.

Like many local businesses, the company is in a hiring crunch.

“Currently we're down about 20% of our workforce, and we've got quite a challenge. We start school Aug. 30, and currently we're looking to hire about 15 drivers and about 10 school bus attendants,” Mitchell said.

Driving jobs start at $16 an hour with a $250 hiring bonus. The company also covers all costs of training and obtaining a Class B Commercial Drivers License, which lasts for 5 years. That license can be used for dump trucks, fire engines, and other vehicles.

And these part-time jobs come with opportunities beyond setting the tempo for a child’s day at school. Field trips have taken drivers to Seattle and California, according to the bus driving crew MTN News spoke with.

And for those ready to take on the part-time job of getting kids to school, no experience is needed. You just need to be over 21 with a valid driver's license.

Recruiters will be stationed at upcoming Missoula Farmers Markets to keep spreading the word about the job. Interested applicants can find the application here, or visit their location at 825 Mount Ave. to test drive a bus.