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Commercial driver shortage hurting area businesses, schools

Red River has repeatedly stated their poor performance is directly related to a driver shortage.

Posted: Aug. 22, 2018 10:48 PM
Updated: Aug. 22, 2018 10:48 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - A nationwide commercial driver shortage is putting many operations in a bind.

Red River has repeatedly stated their poor performance is directly related to that shortage, currently it is short nine drivers.

The company's executives told city council Tuesday three drivers left one week this month, the same week several housing additions didn't get their garbage collected as scheduled.

However they are not alone.

Excursions Trailways said fewer people are applying for driving jobs in recent years.

In fact, it has some of its buses parked because there aren't enough drivers.

"We just go ahead and look at how many drivers it's going to take to make that trip go," said Excursions CEO Tom Bazow.

Excursions has a fleet of 16 buses divided between Fort Wayne and Ottawa, Ohio.

Bazow said fewer drivers means fewer trips.

"Groups are calling and they want our coaches, so we don't want to over book and to not be able to deliver," he said.

Bazow said he is turning to the big job boards to find drivers so they don't have to put the breaks on some trips.

"If we are doing Washington D.C. trips it's going to take two or three drivers to move those groups out and back," Bazow said.

Area school districts are also struggling to find drivers, but they still have to pick up every student.

"We split routes. We share it when it happens. We'll have drivers call in saying 'I can pick up off that street, I'm one block over,'" said David Meyers, East Allen County Schools transportation director.

Meyers said EACS is trying creative recruitment efforts, including a bus outside New Haven High School and signs advertising a "flashy company car."

The car referenced is the school bus with flashing lights.

"We are in competition with everybody. We're in competition with the beverage companies that are trying to find drivers, the class A folks trying to find drivers," Meyers said.

Another solution Meyer said is treating everyone like family.

"Anytime we get the chance to talk to folks about driving these students we have, we talk to them about it," he said.

There are more than two dozen CDL positions open at schools in Allen County.

Many companies and schools will train drivers to get their CDL, they are just asking anyone interested to give them a call.

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