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‘CPS won’t answer your phone calls’: Demand for school bus drivers rises as many have yet to receive promised bonuses


CHICAGO (SCS) — The demand for school bus drivers is hot. To get men and women behind the wheel, districts and bus companies offer big bonuses.

But, Only in 2 we learn that for some drivers, these bonuses look like false promises. CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports from district headquarters where he looked into the thousands of dollars stuck in the CPS system.

At the start of the school year, many CPS drivers quit due to vaccination requirements. To keep existing people happy and avoid calling in sick, money pledges emerged.

But for many, they were just that – promises. Not real money.

“A lot of drivers are gone, so they need drivers in the worst way.”

On his daily commute to work, it’s not hard for school bus driver Robert Casey to see he’s in the driver’s seat.

An increase in demand for bus drivers triggering signs indicating: high pay, paid training and big bonuses. His employer, Illinois Central School Buses, pays a signing bonus.

If you have a CPS route, you can earn a $1,000 bonus each quarter if you miss less than four days. Robert qualified twice.


“I saw zero”

02:34

“So far it’s $2,000,” he said. “I saw zero.”

He asked his bosses when he will get it.

“Next week, next week, next week, next week, then all of a sudden stop asking. We don’t know, stop asking.”

“CPS won’t answer your phone calls, they won’t answer,” Roberts said.

So CBS 2 went after those answers for him. The district says it paid, but in a CPS statement they said:

“IL Central is… the only supplier whose drivers are behind in receiving payments. The supplier failed to pay all of its employees…and forced the district transportation office to audit their payroll. resolved this issue with its drivers and distributed first quarter payments to drivers.”

IL Central disputes this saying:

“CPS is taking a long time to process payments. They are currently five months behind in paying us our January road payments.”

They provided CBS 2 with an email with the district last Monday asking:

“Do you know when we’ll have the money to pay the drivers for the 2nd quarter incentive?”

The answer came back on Friday:

“This payment will not be processed until Wednesday.”

“You dangle that carrot in front of me, then when I walk up, you rip it off,” Roberts laughs.

A carrot he won on January 27, one he still can’t chew more than three months later.

The company says just over 100 drivers earn this bonus each quarter. It is unclear how many are being left behind. The net effect of this for Robert? He will probably leave the company or the industry next year.


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