About 120 National Guard members this week trained and received licenses to drive students to school in Massachusetts cities struggling with bus driver shortages for school transportation.
The training sessions began Tuesday and likely will train about 170 drivers total, with the first National Guard-driven van routes hitting the roads in Lawrence and Lynn on Thursday, said John McCarthy, CEO of NRT Bus Inc., which is spearheading the training.
Earlier this week, Governor Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard to help with school transportation. At the time, only Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn had signed, but McCarthy said Wednesday that four more school systems have since come on board: Quincy, Revere, Woburn, and Worcester.
“I’m feeling confident. ... And I’m feeling grateful that kids that haven’t been picked up in the last week are now going to have the opportunity to go to school,” said McCarthy, whose company is training the National Guard members on how to operate the 7D school transport vans, use their GPS systems and cameras, and follow other procedures.
“I have a new perspective on the National Guard. ... It brings a whole new category to hero,” he continued.
A Globe photojournalist visited the training at Camp Curtis Guild in Reading on Wednesday.