- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new steps to address the school bus driver shortage.
- Agencies will ask more than 550,000 commercial driver’s license holders if they’ll drive the buses.
- The state will also expedite the process of getting a CDL license and open new sites for CDL tests.
New York is taking action at the state level to tackle a critical shortage of school bus drivers.
Governor Kathy Hochul has told state agencies to reach out to more than 550,000 residents who have commercial driver’s licenses to try to convince them to become school bus drivers, according to a press release issued Sunday.
“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,” Hochul said in the release. “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 commercial driver’s license holders will give additional information if they’re interested; schools can try to recruit bus drivers using these rosters.
The state will also expedite testing to allow school staff who already have commercial driver’s licenses to get permits to temporarily drive campus vans and buses.
In addition, New York will try to recruit currently unemployed drivers to operate school buses. The state will also “work with partners in law enforcement, firefighters, military and other organizations that have trained drivers in order to find more individuals interested in becoming school bus drivers,” the press release says.
To aid the effort, the state will fast-track the process of getting a commercial driver’s license. The Department of Motor Vehicles will get rid of the 14-day waiting period between the permit and road tests for the license. New York will boost its capacity to administer these tests and open new driver testing sites to speed up the process.
Besides these more immediate solutions, New York is also exploring longer-term strategies to attract and retain school bus drivers. These could include “looking at alternative licensing entities and expanded partnerships with other state agencies to help train and recruit drivers,” according to the press release.
Until then, the state “encourages schools to pursue creative and innovative ways to offer a wide array of benefits for school bus drivers that were previously not considered,” the press release says. Schools across the country have taken measures like these to attract school bus drivers amid a shortage of them across the country.
In some cases, they’re also offering incentives to parents to get their kids to school. In Chicago, parents received $1,000 stipends for public transportation, Uber rides, or Lyft rides for their kids’ first two weeks of classes. One Delaware charter school will give parents $700 per child to bring their kids to and from campus. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker activated 250 National Guard members to help drive students to school. A lot of schools are also upping incentives to attract teachers and other school workers in short supply, like cafeteria food servers.