Morelle urges US Transportation Sec. to cut commercial license rule for bus drivers amid driver shortage

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— New York Congressman Joe Morelle is taking a crack at curbing the current bus driver shortage facing the Rochester City School District.

In a letter to U.S.Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg Thursday, Morelle urged the department to waive the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirement for all school bus drivers and establish a school bus-specific license.

Morelle said CDL requirements, which are typically in place for long-haul truckers, are "irrelevant" for bus drivers.

The letter comes as the RCSD started its school year being unable to bus about 317 students as its contractors deal with both a staffing shortage, and a continued resignation of drivers.

There is a bus driver shortage everywhere including the suburbs and the other big cities in New York but it’s only the Rochester City School District that can’t bus every child. Driver reps told News10NBC Chief Investigative Report Berkeley Brean that driver shortages are not new, but the pandemic has made it worse.

Though, as Brean reported Wednesday, a recent survey by the NY Association for Pupil Transportation found one of the main reasons drivers left was because of the commercial license requirement.

Letter on Waiver of CDL Requirements for School Bus Drivers Final by News10NBC on Scribd

Morelle said while different states, schools, and employers may ask for different requirements to drive a bus, employers in all states will look for a CDL. He believes cutting the requirement would allow more people to apply for a driver position.

In New York, you must take a written and driving test, among other tasks.

Despite the shortage, First Student, one of the RCSD’s contractors, reports it is seeing an increase in driver applications. It says it’s taking more applications and it’s urging anyone interested to apply. Click here to apply.