|October 18, 2021 03:50 PM
|Representative Rosemary M. Brown and Rep. Tim Hennessey
|All House members
|Calling on Congress to Address the School Bus Driver Shortage
|Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation are experiencing a school bus driver shortage. In the last 10 years, the Commonwealth lost approximately 2,000 school bus drivers. As such, we will introduce a resolution urging the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to address the school bus driver shortage by reforming the Commercial Driver License (CDL) requirements to reduce the burden of obtaining and maintaining a school bus endorsement. The resolution will also urge Governor Wolf to petition the US Department of Transportation for a waiver for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year to Section 383.113: Required Skills portion of the Federal CDL requirements for the state of Pennsylvania due to the driver shortage crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2015, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 49, which was mandated by the Federal Government to update the Commonwealth’s Vehicle Code with comprehensive changes to the CDL laws. If Pennsylvania’s CDL laws did not conform with Federal regulations, hundreds of millions of dollars in highway funding would have been jeopardized.
Individuals who are interested in becoming a school bus driver must follow stringent Federal and State requirements. In most cases, it takes an individual approximately 12 weeks to complete the various requirements such as passing the knowledge test, the road test and multiple background checks. Then, when an individual receives their school bus endorsement, there are more stringent requirements to follow such as conducting a strenuous “under the hood” inspection and completing a refresher training, a knowledge test and a road test every four years.
The safety of our school children is the upmost concern, which is why traveling on a school bus is the safest form of transportation for over 1.5 million school children in Pennsylvania. To ensure school children have access to safe and reliable school transportation, the Federal Government must improve the requirements to obtain and maintain a school bus endorsement. To illustrate, a CDL truck driver and a CDL school bus driver are different occupations, but they are treated the same in how a CDL is obtained and maintained. Congress could evaluate creating a special CDL for school bus drivers.
In the meantime, Pennsylvania’s school districts and school bus contractors are contemplating how to attract interested applicants who become one of the most valued individuals in our communities. The Pennsylvania School Bus Association recently launched the following resources to spur recruitment efforts:
Introduced as HR152