NY State announces plan to help end bus driver shortage

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)–School districts around the Capital Region are in desperate need of bus drivers. For those looking to enter the industry, there are many regulatory hurdles.

“If you’re looking for a job in this current market, with inflation the way that it’s been going with costs rising across the board, you’re not going to wait two months to get put on the road for a job,” explained Corey Muirhead, President of the New York School Bus Contractors Association.

Today, Governor Kathy Hochul addressed the problem, saying that the New York State DMV is expediting the process to receive a commercial drivers license by expanding testing sites and removing the 14 day waiting period between the permit tests and road tests.

“They pushed out an email to all the CDL holders in the state saying you may be qualified to help take care of your community in a time of crisis,” said Muirhead. “So, I really applaud the governor and I applaud her office for taking swift action.”

Besides reaching out to those who already have their New York CDL licenses and unemployed drivers through the Department of Labor, The state also plans on working with other organizations with trained drivers— such as law enforcement officials and firefighters in an effort to find more people interested in driving school busses.

New York State United Teachers President, Andy Pallotta praised this decision and said in part,

“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.”

“They have some really good short term solutions,” said Muirhead. “And we look forward to continuing working with the governor and her team on long term solutions.”

Muirhead emphasized that while some regulatory hurdles have been minimized, there are still many regulations in place to help make sure that only the safest, most professional drivers are out on the roads transporting children everyday to and from school.

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