UniteGPS – DC taxi drivers can obtain their CDL and learn how to operate school buses thanks to current initiatives happening around the U.S. capital city.

Department of For-Hire Vehicle (DFHV)

The first is $245,000 in new funding from the Department of For-Hire Vehicle (DFHV) in the U.S. capital. According to a press release from March 28, 2022, the CDL training programs intends to prepare up to 50 local taxi drivers to get behind the wheel of DC SchoolConnect’s famous red vehicles. Even though these aren’t standardized yellow school buses, they serve 24 public as well as charter schools in Wards 7 and 8.

Realizing these challenges, Mayor Muriel Bowser originally invested $6.1 million into DC SchoolConnect in order to help it launch in August 2021. The organization specifically provides shared-ride shuttles for students living in areas where public safety is a concern. 

“Thanks to Mayor Bowser’s investments in DFHV’s DC SchoolConnect program, we are not only helping students get to and from school safely but also giving taxi drivers a way to increase their skills and income,” said DFHV Director David Do in the recent correspondence.

“Through this program, we can provide greater opportunities for taxi drivers in the District. It means even more as the industry works to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a win-win for the District by providing economic opportunities and accessible and safe transportation for kids in Wards 7 and 8.”

What DC taxi drivers can expect are grants from DFHV in order to train with a certified CDL driving school, taking between six to eight weeks to earn their school bus credentials. 

To prevent taxi drivers from receiving free CDL training only to eventually leave for an employer like Amazon offering higher wages, the DFHV program will require participants to commit to at least six months. There will also be bonuses and financial incentives to operate the DC SchoolConnect school buses, according to the statement.

HOPE Project

Meanwhile, the HOPE Project is also collaborating with taxi drivers to enter this new career field, as featured on NBC 4 in Washington, D.C. Bringing over 40 years of expeience, the ultimate goal of the HOPE Project is to help participants earn a reliable income.

Like the DFHV program, the HOPE Project will also recruit drivers to operate DC SchoolConnect vehicles, providing the free CDL training and financial incentives in exchange for six months of service.

Not only do both of these CDL training grants strive to alleviate the shortage of bus drivers but also help taxi drivers get financially back on their feet. Competition from ride share companies like Uber and Lyft was one thing, but the biggest losses came from virtually not working during the COVID-19 pandemic.