Wolf Administration addressing bus driver shortage; encourages CDL drivers to apply

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(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

Schools still do not have enough bus drivers, so Pennsylvania is asking for your help.

On Thursday, PennDOT Deputy Secretary Kurt Myers and Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega joined the Pennsylvania School Bus Association to encourage anyone who is interested to obtain Commercial Driver’s License to address the bus driver shortage in the commonwealth.

“We want to do our part to encourage those looking for employment or supplemental income to consider obtaining a school bus endorsement to help get our children to school. That’s the critical part of all of this,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary Myers. “We believe these efforts will help to ensure the safe and effective transportation of our commonwealth students.”

PennDOT mailed a letter from PDE reaching out to approximately 376,000 individuals with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) to help connect interested drivers with school entities. The letter included information for a survey link for individuals who were interested in becoming bus drivers.

To date, more than 1,300 people have expressed an interest in becoming a school bus driver through the survey. They will now be contacted by their local school districts to discuss next steps in licensure.

“We know how challenging this year has been for our schools, communities, and parents; and we know how important it is to form partnerships and pool resources in times of crisis,” said PDE Secretary Ortega. “The Wolf Administration and the Pennsylvania School Bus Association stand committed to supporting our schools as they work to resolve these difficult transportation issues, and we encourage anyone interested in becoming a school bus driver to apply online.”

PennDOT has also temporarily opened CDL skills testing on Mondays for the next four weeks. This began on Monday, Oct. 18. CDL skills testing takes place at 23 locations throughout Pennsylvania. These extra testing appointments are intended to allow more chances for people to take the CDL skills test if they are interested.

People can schedule a CDL skills test by visiting PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website and selecting “Schedule a Driver’s Exam” under “Driver Vehicle Services.” They can also call (717) 412-5300.

“The school bus industry has been hit hard by COVID-19,” said Ryan Dellinger, Executive Director of the PSBA. “Our only goal, at the end of the day, is to ensure that children are able to get to and from school safely on a daily basis. School bus drivers are a critical part of the education system and are the first and last interaction a child gets during the school day, which can be incredibly important for setting the tone of their day. Now, more than ever though, it is incredibly important that we tell their story and recognize them for what they really are: heroes.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania School Bus Association has been working to address the driver shortage as well, through a multi-faceted Driver Recruitment Campaign, which they have been running since July. This campaign includes a content microsite, YouBehindTheWheel.com, that is designed to educate individuals on the school bus industry, walk them through the process of school bus driver training and get them to apply. 

Afterward, people who are interested can access SchoolBusHero.com, which is a public job board that will put these people in touch with local PSBA members who have vacancies. For more information, people can contact the PSBA Office at office@paschoolbus.org or at (717) 975-1951.

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