Amidst a national shortage of school bus drivers, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced measures to address the mounting crisis.
The state will expand new testing opportunities for commercial drivers license applicants and expediting the process for obtaining van and bus permits by removing the 14-day waiting period between the permit and road test. In the long-term, the state will revise the testing and training system, as well as expand recruitment for bus drivers.
The state will reach out to 550,000 CDL license holders, such as firefighters or police officers, or those who already have the training but are currently unemployed.
Schools are encouraged to offer incentives for potential drivers such as signing and retention bonuses and expanding benefits, and can use federal funds to do so.
A 2019 study by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation found that that 80% of school transportation directors were concerned by the lack of drivers, and the pandemic exacerbated the issue, according to the Associated Press.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to make sure schools have adequate bus service to bring students to school and back,” Hochul said in a statement. “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.”