Governor announces effort to recruit school bus drivers

Would waive parts of CDL road test

ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — As school districts grapple with the problem of dwindling numbers of school bus drivers, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday, January 17 an effort to increase that number.

The governor announced a plan to remove barriers for prospective drivers that are applying for a commercial driver’s license. The governor has directed the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to implement a federal waiver that allows applicants to skip a part of the road test known as the “under-the-hood” component.

It is the latest measure by Governor Hochul to address dwindling numbers of truck and bus drivers across the state.

“The job of transporting and caring for our children is so important, and the need for more drivers throughout New York State is very real,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “This simple change will encourage more New Yorkers to become school bus drivers – a chance for many to be a positive influence and help support our students, without sacrificing safety.” 

The exemption of the “under-the-hood” component is allowed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to help states hire more bus drivers without sacrificing safety. Existing school bus inspection and maintenance standards continue to apply under the exemption, according to the FMCSA. During the road test, applicants are still required to perform the remaining elements of the vehicle inspection test.

Interested applicants must follow these steps:

  • You must have a Class D, E, or Non CDL-C license.
  • Apply for a permit at a DMV office and take a test.
  • Schedule entry-level driver training.
  • Schedule and pass your limited School Bus road test.
  • Go to a DMV office to amend your license.

“Bus drivers are such an important part of our school system. Not only do they have the incredible responsibility of getting our children to and from school safely, but they’re also often the first friendly face a student sees outside of their family as they begin their day,” DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder said in a statement. “New York State values and appreciates our school bus drivers and hopes this step will help more people qualify to take these jobs and help shape the future of New York’s children.”  

If you are interested in becoming a school bus driver, you can learn more about the process at the DMV’s website. There, you can also find out the steps needed to acquire your CDL license.

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