New federal rules could make it harder to find bus drivers

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 4:37 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Finding school bus drivers is tough and it might get tougher. New requirements being handed down from the federal government could make this struggle worse.

The road to becoming a bus driver can be bumpy.

Before you can open your door to any students, you’ll need shell out money and time because you need a commercial drivers’ license.

“If it’s someone that doesn’t come with their CDL, it’s closer to a 6 to 8 month process,” said General Brown Central School District Superintendent Barbara Case.

She knows the issue all too well. The district, hit hard by a bus driver shortage, went fully remote Friday because there were not enough people to sit in the driver’s seat.

“We were watching every day last week with some concerns, and I had advised everybody, be ready,” said Case.

Making matters worse, starting February 7, the federal Department of Transportation will increase the curriculum required for obtaining a CDL. That means spending more money on more classes.

“We have big concerns about that. It’s already a difficult process. They certainly don’t make it easy for the local schools,” said Case.

Lawmakers across the state are calling on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to waive the CDL requirements for aspiring bus drivers.

“I want it to be easier. I want it to be so that it’s not so much red tape. I’m not willing to forego the safety piece of it,” said Case.

Things are looking up at General Brown, though. It’s newest bus driver started training on Monday, filling one of four open positions.

Case hopes this is the start to finding a few more.

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