Did you know that there was a bus driver shortage?
Hundreds of girls planning to begin their school year at Beth Rivkah in Crown Heights had their high hopes dashed as the school’s plan to privatize their bussing came to a crashing halt. There simply weren’t enough bus drivers to drive the school’s new buses.
Without bus drivers, families received emails from the school cancelling bus routes and requiring hundreds of girls to walk to and from school.
The lack of school bus drivers is not a problem exclusive to Beith Rivkah, or even the Jewish community.
“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 governor, who was notified earlier of the growing issue, enacted a plan that includes short-term steps to remove barriers and recruit traditional and non-traditional Commercial Driver’s License holders, expand CDL testing opportunities, and enhance processes all designed to get more drivers into school buses.
To accomplish this, the DMV is enhancing and expediting the process for CDL completion 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 State is also 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.
Additionally, New York State is launching outreach to more than 550,000 CDL license holders in New York State.
The longer-term steps include changes to address the training and licensing of drivers, as well as broader recruitment into the bus driver profession.