UniteGPS – First electric school buses, then scrapping the earnings cap for retirees, and now an initiative for third-party CDL road tests; so far, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent proposals to rectify the shortage of bus drivers in New York State continue to make headlines.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY)

On Jan. 12, 2022, Gov. Hochul proposed in a press release for qualified third parties to offer CDL road tests and open more testing centers. Her goal is to better address the scarcity of school bus and truck drivers intensified by COVID-19. 

Nothing has been officiated quite yet before an official state hearing, but the public has praised the decision so far, especially the NY Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) voicing its support at a Jan. 13 virtual meeting.

“From my perspective, if some of the bigger operators get involved in this and successfully put their people through the program and do the tests, it lightens the load for DMV and so the smaller operators can get appointments more promptly at the DMV,” said NYAPT Executive Director David Christopher.

NYAPT is an organization overseeing the school transportation needs of over 2.3 million children in New York State. Today the group organizes over 600 members of transit supervisors and professions representing hundreds of statewide districts. 

What will third-party CDL road tests entail?

Moving forward, there will be a public hearing on Jan. 26 for public input on the proposal. If approved, this plan will enable more qualified third parties in New York to offer road tests, in addition to increasing operations as pre-existing state-run exam sites. The end result will ultimately be more availability of CDL road tests for entry-level school bus drivers after the new legislation begins on Feb. 7, 2022. 

Justifiably hesitant about new federal training requirements for bus drivers, this move supported by Gov. Hochul as well as Senator Mike Martucci certainly helps ease some nerves for some parties.

“Governor Hochul and Senator Mike Martucci, a former school transportation provider who worked closely with the Governor’s office on this issue, continue to be tremendous advocates for New York’s school districts and school transportation providers,” said Christopher. 

“We thank them both for their tireless commitment to ensuring that the 2.3 million children who ride a yellow school bus to and from school each day get there safely.”