USED Announces Joint Temporary Action with U.S. Department of Transportation to Help Address School Bus Driver Labor Shortage

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USED Announces Joint Temporary Action with U.S. Department of Transportation to Help Address School Bus Driver Labor Shortage

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Education to address the school bus driver shortage. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency within US DOT responsible for regulating the trucking industry, is giving states the option of waiving the portion of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test that requires applicants to identify the “under the hood” engine components. All other components of the written and road test will remain. Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver are permitted to operate intrastate school buses only; they are not authorized to operate trucks, motorcoaches, or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL.  

The FMCSA waiver, which became effective Jan. 3, 2022, expires March 31, 2022. USED and US DOT hope this will alleviate some of the labor shortage challenges schools are facing to safely keep schools open for full-time, in-person learning. 

In case you missed it, AASA led a letter with 12 other national organizations in November 2021 to US DOT identifying a handful of policy changes that could help address the bus driver shortage. While this change was not one of our asks, it does represent a low-hanging fruit provision, that in coordination with longer-lasting and more substantive relief is a good first step towards providing relief. In late November, US DOT also provided flexibility to allow 3rd parties to administer both the skills and knowledge portions of the CDL, in response to our letter. Together, these are two clear indicators that US DOT is committed to supporting schools.