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School bus contractor faces shortage of drivers in Las Cruces district


STS of New Mexico General Manager Van Wamel is not only interviewing bus-driver applicants and training new drivers, he’s also driving a bus himself.

STS, which has had the bus contract with Las Cruces Public Schools since 2011, runs 126 routes for the school district, and is about 20 drivers short of the number needed to cover all the routes and provide a relief pool of about 10 percent of that total, Wamel said.

Wamel said the base pay for STS New Mexico bus drivers has increased to $14 an hour. It includes part-time (bus drivers are part-time employees) health, dental and vision benefits and 401K eligibility after a probationary period.

STS provides 30 to 36 hours of training for drivers to get them fully licensed, Wamel said, and no previous experience is required, nor is any license endorsement. A road test is conducted by an STS examiner who is licensed by the state, he said.

Wamel said the job is ideal for a wide range of people, including college students, early retirees and parents with school-age children.

Wamel said the shortage of bus drivers is the result of attrition and the pandemic, with a number of drivers deciding to retire when the pandemic shut down the schools in 2020.

Wamel is a native of Animas, New Mexico and has lived in Las Cruces since 1990.

For more information, contact Wamel at van.wamel@dsbussouth.com. Call STS New Mexico at 575-523-5686.

STS of New Mexico, Van Wamel