Anne Arundel Co. to offer $5K bus driver bonuses amid national shortage

New and existing school bus drivers in Anne Arundel County are on track to get new $5,000 bonuses as officials in the Maryland county aim to fill a shortage of drivers that has snarled back-to-school transportation in the county and across the region.

The $4.2 million plan to offer the $5,000 retention and hiring bonuses was announced Thursday by Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. New and current bus aides are eligible for $2,000 bonuses, according to the county.

The bonuses will be paid in three installments through the end of the school year in June 2022.

Pittman’s office said the money to pay for the bonuses is coming from federal American Rescue Plan funding and billed it as a local solution to a national problem of bus driver shortages.

“We can’t continue leaving kids stranded and parents’ work schedules disrupted due to a national shortage of school bus drivers,” Pittman said in a statement. “Dedicating $4.2 million of our county’s federal recovery funds to these bonuses is the right thing to do for parents and their kids.”



In Anne Arundel County, bus drivers are employed by private companies that have contracts with the school system.

Last month, drivers with one company, The Annapolis Bus Co., went on a two-day strike pressing for higher pay and benefits.

In an online event with Pittman after the drivers returned to work, several bus drivers spoke of their hardships in making ends meet working as school bus drivers, where many typically only make roughly $25,000 a year.

The new bonuses will be paid via contracts between the workforce development corporation and the school bus contractors, the county said.

“Thank you County Executive Steuart Pittman for working to find local solutions to this national issue,” Maryland School Bus Contractor Association representative Erin Appel said. “This is the quickest and most efficient way to help our bus drivers and get our kids to school.”

The county’s new plan to offer bonuses is the latest approach for filling the driver shortage.

Last month, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto introduced a roughly $9.7 million plan to increase wages by $5 an hour and pay $2,000 retention and new-hire bonuses.

Pittman’s office said his plan costs half as much as the schools’, and the money will reach drivers faster.

As a result of the new plan, the school proposal has been withdrawn, the county said.

“The bonus structure will give the contractors flexibility in the recruitment and retention process,” Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation President and CEO Kirkland Murray said in a statement. “We know it’s a very competitive environment for bus drivers at a local and national level right now, and these bonuses provide a tool for the contractors to put and keep staff in place.”

Here’s a breakdown of how the bonuses will work:

Retention bonuses ($5,000 drivers/$2,000 aides)

  • $2,500/$1,000 immediately when the program starts and contracts are completed with their respective employer.
  • $500/$200 on the first pay date in March 2022.
  • $2,000/$800 on the last pay date of the school year in June 2022.

New hire bonuses ($5,000 drivers/$2,000 aides)

  • $2,500/$1,000 after the first week working an AACPS bus route.
  • $500/$200 after 90 days of working.
  • $2,000/$800 on the last pay date of the school year in June 2022.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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