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New York faces school bus driver shortage

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  • Staff Report 

As New York schools reopen after summer, a concerning 15% statewide shortage of school bus drivers becomes increasingly evident.

This shortage has been exacerbated by numerous retirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges related to the job’s part-time nature and inconsistent pay across districts.

Officials are emphasizing the urgency, revealing that 80% of association members report driver shortages.

To address the issue, the state Legislature has approved a bill allowing 18 to 20-year-olds to obtain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License through a young adult training program.

While advocates are actively seeking potential solutions, such as enhancing driver pay, improving recruitment tactics, and considering military veterans for driver roles, the legislature is grappling with the electrification of school buses by 2035.

The ambitious timeline under the Climate Act requires about 3,500 to 4,500 bus replacements yearly. Presently, only 50 of the state’s 45,000 school buses are electric, with electric variants costing over $400,000 each, more than double the price of diesel counterparts.

Despite funding provisions from agencies like NYSERDA, school administrators express concerns about the mandate, highlighting infrastructure and financial challenges.

Categories: New York StateNews