Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday that the state is taking several steps to try to address the shortage of school bus drivers affecting numerous school districts around the state.
Bus companies reported a shortage of drivers of 15 to 20 percent as the new school year began, altering some after-school event schedules.
The steps include expanding testing opportunities for a commercial driver’s license, more outreach to CDL holders to take school bus jobs,
The longer term steps include changes to address the training and licensing of drivers, as well as broader recruitment into the bus driver profession.
“Our schools and public health officials have moved mountains to ensure our children receive an in-person education this year, and we are leaving no stone unturned to make sure schools have adequate bus service to bring students to school and back,” Governor Hochul said. “While the shortage of school bus drivers is not unique to New York State, I have directed state agencies to utilize creative approaches and use every tool at their disposal to help districts affected by the bus driver shortage, so we can bring in as many qualified bus drivers as possible as quickly as possible.”
The state will reach out to interested drivers and provide their information to transportation companies for recruitment.
Additionally, DMV will expedite the process by removing the 14-day waiting period between the permit test and the road tests. Through enhanced cooperation with county-run DMVs the state will also help to increase capacity to administer written exams and road tests.
The tsate is opening up new CDL Driver Testing sites by partnering with SUNY, the Thruway Authority, New York Racing Association, and the Office of General Services to use large lots on their various sites for the road test. For school staff who currently hold a CDL, the state will set up expedited testing to obtain a permit to drive vans and buses temporarily.
New York State United Teachers welcomed the moves, saying Sunday, “Like all school staff, bus drivers play an essential role in keeping our schools running and serving families across New York. Any steps the state can take to expedite the process for obtaining a commercial driver’s license are welcome — as are steps on the local level to provide hardworking, deserving drivers with the fair pay and benefits that reflect the critical importance of their work safely transporting students. Gov. Hochul is taking important steps to address the driver shortage crisis in the short term, and we will continue to advocate with her and the Legislature for long term solutions that improve working conditions for drivers, including legislation to require districts to staff every bus with a monitor.”