The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is implementing a temporary waiver to address the school bus driver shortage in the state.
According to WisDOT, drivers seeking their school bus license will have the portion of the test that identifies "under the hood" engine components waived until March 31. All other components of the written and road tests will remain.
“WisDOT is taking every available opportunity to ease the strain on communities struggling to recruit drivers by removing barriers that might keep prospective drivers from applying,” DMV Administrator Kristina Boardman said.
Officials say a recent waiver from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) temporarily allows states to modify the CDL test for school bus drivers.
“Wisconsin’s CDL examiners will focus on the testing requirements that are critical to safety in order to help school districts and communities struggling to recruit qualified school bus drivers,” Boardman added.
Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporarily waiver are permitted to operate intrastate school buses only, WisDOT said. They are not authorized to operate trucks, motor coaches, or any other vehicle requiring a CDL.
In addition, the DMV sent a letter to nearly 1,000 former drivers who let their school bus license lapse. Officials say the letter encourages drivers to renew their endorsement and seek employment opportunities in their community.
Some school bus companies in Wisconsin have implemented employment incentives, including increased wages and sign-on and referral bonuses, according to WisDOT.
“With the critical shortage of school bus drivers in Wisconsin, we hope these steps will support new and returning drivers to get behind the wheel and ensure all students have convenient, safe transportation to their local schools,” Boardman said.