UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Last year, Durham School Services experienced a severe labor shortage coming out of the pandemic, but this year General Manager Brian McCann tells me they are not having the same level of staffing issues.

“It’s night day different from last year,” said McCann.

He tells me that the team is almost 100 percent staffed.

“We should be at about 90, 92 folks. That’s drivers, that’s not counting monitors so probably about 130 or so. We’re in a couple 2 or 3 of that number it fluctuates due to medical disqualification,” said McCann.

As a result, they are working on creating what he calls a bench by recruiting 10 to 15 extra workers that will be ready to step in when drivers call out sick so the bus company does not find itself in the same place they were last year.

“There are days that you have some shortages due to people calling in sick and things of that nature that’s why we’re working now to build our bench. We want to be at about 110, 120 percent staffing,” said McCann.

This year, Durham does not have to consolidate as many bus routes, but when needed the company makes sure to communicate with the schools and parents to make the process smoother. When it comes to the response from parents McCann says there are days when they receive complaints, but not at the same level as last year.

“There’s a population in Utica that they move quite frequently so we get a lot of return slips so we don’t know where some of the children live so we’re constantly working on the routing and figuring that out as well working closely with the district so I’m not going to say that there aren’t complaints there are days that there are some but the volume is drastically less than it was last year,” said McCann.