Congressman Morelle Announces Legislation to Address Bus Driver Shortage
Congressman Joe Morelle visited Council Rock Primary School on Wednesday, Aug. 17 to discuss legislation he has introduced to address the school bus driver shortage that is impacting school districts in our community and across the country. The Get Our Kids to School Act takes steps to eliminate onerous licensure requirements, making them more accessible to pursue while maintaining strict safety standards.
“With the back-to-school season quickly approaching, this is a critical time to mitigate the bus driver shortage and ensure we have the resources to safely transport children to school,” said Congressman Morelle. “That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to allow more people to apply for bus driver positions while maintaining essential safety standards. This will ease the burden on our communities, provide parents with much-needed peace of mind, and lay the groundwork for a successful school year for everyone.”
Morelle held a press conference outside Council Rock Primary School alongside Brighton Superintendent Dr. Kevin McGowan, Monroe County School Boards Association Executive Director Amy Thomas, and Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle.
“We are incredibly grateful for Congressman Morelle's support yet again,” Dr. McGowan said. “His work to propose legislation that could help ease the driver shortage is likely to have a meaningful and significant impact on a large concern for schools locally and throughout the state. We depend on our drivers to safely and thoughtfully transport the greatest gift in any community: Our children. Congressman Morelle’s legislation would help ensure that we are able to fully staff our teams and continue to provide this service that is so essential to families and the efficient operation of our schools."
School districts across Monroe County have faced a shortage of bus drivers, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In September of 2021, Congressman Morelle sent a letter urging United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Buttigieg to allow school bus drivers to forgo the repair-oriented, under-the-hood vehicle testing requirements of the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which are unnecessary for school bus drivers and cited as one of the greatest barriers to hiring new operators. Forgoing this requirement does not impact any safety standards as drivers complete daily pre-trip inspections, have spare buses, and readily available mechanical support — and in the event of a breakdown, school bus drivers cannot leave students unattended and are therefore unable to go under the hood to repair their own bus anyway. In January of 2022, the USDOT announced they will allow states to apply for this waiver — however, the brief time period during which the waiver was open did not allow the majority of states enough time to take advantage of this change.
The Get Our Kids to School Act would extend this waiver for a period of one year, allowing more states to pursue the waiver and get drivers in the pipeline. The bill would also require the Secretary of Transportation to seek comments on the benefits of permanently granting this waiver.