Bus Drivers' FAQs

  • For those interested in becoming a Mercer Island school bus driver for the upcoming school year, here are some frequently asked questions that you should consider before you apply:

    I have never driven a school bus, can I still apply?

    Yes. We provide a free training class for selected candidates where students learn everything necessary to become a licensed school bus driver. New driver training classes are usually held in August. Prior to the class students must obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). In order to receive a CLP, students must make an appointment online to take a CDL knowledge test at a DOL office, then study for and pass the relevant knowledge tests.

    Do I need a good driving record?

    Yes. Accidents and traffic violations that have occurred within the last 5 years could disqualify you as a candidate.

    What kind of physical condition do I need to be in?

    Drivers are required to pass a Washington State Department of Transportation physical every one to two years. In addition, all drivers undergo background checks and periodic drug and alcohol testing.

    What does the job pay and are there benefits?

    The starting rate of pay for a school bus driver is currently $29.44/hour. Benefits such as healthcare, personal days off and retirement plans are for route drivers. Substitute bus drivers receive no benefits.  You will receive pay for the actual training time as well.

    Other than benefits, what are the main differences between a substitute bus driver and a route driver?

    Route drivers are assigned a route at the beginning of the school year and drive that same route every day for the year. They also are entitled to drive field and sports trips that do not interfere with their routes. Substitute drivers drive routes when the regular route driver is on leave and they drive all field and sports trips that route drivers cannot. Some substitute drivers wish to remain as substitutes while others are waiting for an opportunity to drive a route.

    Is there much work for substitute drivers?

    Typically there is a lot of work although it will vary from month to month.

    Will routes be available for the upcoming school year? If so, who gets them?

    Likely, in most years, routes are available. How many if any are a function of staff turnover. We are a union-based organization and follow a seniority system for assigning routes. When one becomes available, it is offered first to the most senior substitute driver and we go down the seniority order until the route is claimed.

    I’m still interested, what do I do next?

    Go to Mercer Island Schools jobs page to begin the application process. You can search for available positions by clicking on Job Openings and selecting the Classified button.

    “The Transportation Department is a great place to work on Mercer Island. The people are wonderful, with a diverse set of backgrounds. It is a wonderful way to stay involved in the community and keep your finger on the pulse of the school district.” –Jay Little, Dispatcher