National Guardsmen Train on 7D Buses to Drive Mass. Students to School

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has called in the National Guard to help with student transportation amid a school bus driver shortage

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School is in session in Massachusetts, but getting there and home is a challenge being met by the National Guard.

Troops are in training at Camp Curtis in Reading. It's a one-day, nine-hour course to teach about 150 troops how to drive 7D buses, which are vans that carry up to eight passengers.

"It starts off with fingerprinting in the morning. Then they go through a medical, then they go through the classroom training, and then they do behind the wheel," said John McCarthy, CEO of NRT Bus Company.

Several communities have reached out to Gov. Charlie Baker asking for help solving their school bus driver shortage, including Chelsea, Lawrence, Lynn and Lowell.

"There is a lot of soldiers here today that come from those communities, so we have a lot of bilingual guardsmen," he said. "It's actually working out pretty well."

There is no question help is needed getting kids to school.

"My daughter actually ended up getting on, but I know that there's a lot of kids that are waiting," said Alyssa Goodrich of Chelsea.

"My niece actually goes on the bus, and she's actually on the waiting list, and this is a first because she usually takes the bus every year to school," said Krystal Diaz of Chelsea.

Soldiers behind the wheel provide some with a sense of security.

"I know the military and National Guard is very safe because they're always tested and they have their vaccines and everything," said Kelly Thompson.

"They can be called up to help fight a war, or they can be called up to help with a disaster, and here they are being called up to help drive children to school," McCarthy said. "So it's a different spin on 'hero,' isn't it?"

There is no word yet on when these soldiers will be deployed to drive kids to school.

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