(The Center Square) – Two years into Wisconsin's school bus driver shortage, the state of Wisconsin says it is now trying to help.
The state’s Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced plans to trim the school bus driver test to try and get more people behind the wheel.
“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 in a statement. “Drivers seeking their school bus license will have the portion of the test that identifies ‘under the hood’ engine components waived until March 31, 2022.”
School bus drivers need a commercial drivers license, a CDL, in order to drive a bus in Wisconsin. The state’s CDL test includes 90 questions for all CDL drivers, as well as 20 specific questions for carrying passengers and another 20 questions specific for bus drivers.
The "under the hood" questions are just a small portion of the special school bus driver portion.
“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.
While the temporary waiver will be enough to get drivers into school buses, the DMV is quick to say that the waiver does not apply to other categories of CDLs.
Many schools have complained for years that they are short on bus drivers. The test is just one reason. It takes weeks for prospective school bus drivers to take their test, get their CDL, and then train to take kids to-and-from school.
The DMV this week also sent letters to nearly 1,000 former drivers who let their school bus license lapse, encouraging them to apply for many of the open school bus driver positions across the state.