READING – It usually takes longer than one day to become a school bus driver but more than 60 members of the Massachusetts National Guard were able to go through the entire process Tuesday at Camp Curtis Guild and they’ll be ready to hit the streets this week.
Sixty-seven members of the National Guard left Camp Curtis Guild with a new 7D certification in hand and will begin bus routes throughout Lowell, Chelsea and Lynn as early as Thursday.
(On Sept. 14) we had 75 members come out and 67 passed that course, which was great,” NRT Bus CEO John McCarthy said. “These folks will be in uniform, meeting kids just like bus drivers do, bringing them to school, so they’re really excited about this mission.”
John McCarthy is the CEO of NRT Bus – which provides transportation for students throughout Massachusetts and is working to train National Guard members.
“They’re very positive about taking children to school, they think it’s a unique opportunity to connect with the community in a different way,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said members started the day at 7:30 a.m. and went through fingerprinting, classroom exams and road tests, all to help the state deal with a shortage of bus drivers. NRT Bus reports it was down 350 employees three weeks ago but said the National Guard will be able to fill the void as they recruit new drivers.
“These folks went on and found other jobs,” McCarthy said. “We also had a little bit of a challenge with the unemployment being extended to where it is but we’re seeing a lot of candidates come in through the door now.”
McCarthy said another 65 service members will be training for their 7D certification Wednesday at Camp Curtis Guild and they’re set to begin helping the Lawrence school district on Monday.