NY school bus drivers forced out-of-state for CDL exams

August 27, 2018 11:18 PM

School districts, already dealing with a bus driver shortage, now have another problem forcing them to send new drivers out-of-state for their CDL exam. 

Transportation officials say they can’t find available exams in New York State and are sending drivers to Pennsylvania. 

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“I couldn't get anything in the state,” said Kathleen Callon, transportation director at East Irondequoit Schools. “I looked in Rochester, Buffalo, Binghamton, Syracuse, Jamestown, Albany and any zip code I put on the website said 'no road tests available.'”

Callon added, “It goes from what might take two to three hours for my trainer to pretty much an all-day event." 

Callon says the trip is costing her more than $500, instead of the usual $100 that it costs. 

“It’s frustrating. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it in the state,” said Callon. 

By law, in New York State, only the DMV can give the CDL exam and districts tell News10NBC they believe the DMV is backed up because it handles all CDL exams across the state. 

Bill Harvey, the transportation director at Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District, says him and other transportation supervisors are pushing the state to allow third-party testing in New York to alleviate the problem.

“If you get somebody trained in 10 days and then they have four weeks off before the road test, they're going to lose those skills,” said Harvey. 

He says many candidates, depending on the district, also go through unpaid training making new employees wait much longer than necessary for a paycheck.   

Because of the problem, Harvey started driving his candidates to Pennsylvania by choice last year. 

“It allows me to control timing so it's a huge advantage to have that level of customer service and plot the road test within a day or two that works best for us,” said Harvey. 

New York’s CDL exam also changed, effective this year, to an off-road exam rendering on-road locations like Rochester’s unusable, which transportation officials believe is adding to the problem.  

Harvey, who is also president of the Rochester Area Transportation Supervisors Association, says NYS exams are also inconsistent in how they are administered, adding unnecessary strain to an already rigorous test. 

Harvey’s association is contemplating creating new legislation that would allow third-party’s to administer the exam. 


Beth Cefalu

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