Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a plan to expand outreach efforts to more than 550,000 commercial driver's license holders in New York State to remedy the bus driver shortage affecting school districts statewide, including signing bonuses and benefit expansions.

Hochul is directing local agencies to utilize more creative approaches to support schools by expanding CDL training opportunities and recruitment in the short term. In the long term, steps will be taken to address the training and licensing of drivers, as well as discussions on how to effectively gather more interest in the bus driving profession.

The shortage has been a hot topic, particularly throughout upstate New York, as schools get back in session. Some districts have had to amend bus routes, shortening their services and leaving some areas without district-provided transportation. 

"Our schools and public health officials have moved mountains to ensure our children receive an in-person education this year, and we are leaving no stone unturned to make sure schools have adequate bus service to bring students to school and back," Hochul said. "While the shortage of school bus drivers is not unique to New York State, I have directed state agencies to utilize creative approaches and use every tool at their disposal to help districts affected by the bus driver shortage, so we can bring in as many qualified bus drivers as possible as quickly as possible." 

New York State United Teachers Union President Andy Pallotta responded to the governor's announcement in a statement Sunday, saying, "Like all school staff, bus drivers play an essential role in keeping our schools running and serving families across New York. Any steps the state can take to expedite the process for obtaining a commercial driver’s license are welcome — as are steps on the local level to provide hardworking, deserving drivers with the fair pay and benefits that reflect the critical importance of their work safely transporting students. Gov. Hochul is taking important steps to address the driver shortage crisis in the short term, and we will continue to advocate with her and the Legislature for long term solutions that improve working conditions for drivers, including legislation to require districts to staff every bus with a monitor.”

Hochul says the state plans to target their survey efforts on currently unemployed CDL holders. DMVs will also be eliminating the 14-day waiting period between the permit test and driving test to expedite the licensing process. Additionally, county DMVs will be expanding their capacities to administer CDL testing and training services.

Those who are interested in obtaining a commercial driver's license can find information here.