In response to the pressing shortage of school bus drivers affecting children across the state, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has unveiled a strategic plan aimed at streamlining the process for individuals aspiring to become school bus drivers. The innovative initiative seeks to address the critical need for qualified drivers and facilitate a faster pathway for potential drivers to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Governor Hochul’s proactive approach was unveiled this week, reflecting a commitment to ensuring the safe transportation of New York’s children to and from school. Representative Joe Morelle emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “It is critical that we address the shortage of school bus drivers to ensure we can safely transport our children to school.”
The cornerstone of the plan involves Governor Hochul instructing the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to implement a federal waiver, specifically an “Under the Hood” exemption, for the commercial driver’s license road test. This exemption allows school bus driver applicants to bypass the engine compartment component, expediting the licensing process.
The significance of this rule change lies in its potential to accelerate the issuance of commercial licenses, subsequently addressing the ongoing shortage of school bus drivers. Governor Hochul’s office emphasized that this move is part of a broader strategy to counteract the critical shortage of truck and bus drivers in the state.
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The exemption, referred to as the “Under the Hood” exemption, essentially enables New York residents to obtain their commercial licenses more efficiently, eliminating potential roadblocks that may have deterred individuals from pursuing a career as a school bus driver.
Governor Hochul stated, “This will make it easier to get a commercial license at a time when school bus drivers are desperately needed and are the latest in a series of actions directed by Governor Hochul to address the critical shortage of truck and bus drivers.”
To become a school bus driver in New York State, interested individuals must follow a structured process outlined by Governor Hochul’s office:
- Possess a New York State driver’s license (Class D, Class E, or Non-CDL C).
- Study the New York State Commercial Driver’s Manual.
- Apply for a commercial learner permit (CLP) at a DMV office and pass a written knowledge test to receive a CDL permit with the school bus and passenger endorsements.
- Schedule entry-level driver training, as detailed in the Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) FAQ.
- Prepare for the road test and engage in practice sessions with a supervising driver.
- Schedule the “Limited School Bus” road test online or by calling the DMV Contact Center.
- Successfully pass the “Limited School Bus” road test.
- Visit a DMV office for the final steps of the process.
Governor Hochul emphasized the vital role transportation plays in caring for children and underscored that the rule change aims to encourage more New Yorkers to consider becoming school bus drivers. She stated, “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.”
In conclusion, this forward-thinking initiative by Governor Hochul reflects a commitment to addressing the immediate challenges faced by New York schools due to the shortage of school bus drivers. The rule change not only simplifies the licensing process but also opens doors for individuals to contribute meaningfully to the well-being and safety of the state’s students.