The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission will not require New Jersey applicants for school bus driver licensing to take the “under-the-hood” portion of the exam, effective Jan. 7 through March 31, 2022, according to a Jan. 6 news release from the NJMVC.
The news comes just days after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a temporary waiver to alleviate a nationwide shortage of bus drivers that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including in New Jersey.
“We appreciate the NJMVC taking swift action to help alleviate the school bus driver shortage during this critical time,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. “School bus drivers are essential in getting students safely to and from school, before- and after-school programs, athletic events, field trips and more. Anything we can do to safely ease the school bus driver shortage is a win for the New Jersey education community, parents — and most importantly — students.”
Under the waiver, school bus driver license applicants will still be required to pass all of the safety elements of the exam and skills test, such as checking lights and safety bars before each trip.
The only portion of the exam that will be waived is the engine compartment component of the commercial driver’s license skills test, which is the requirement for applicants to identify “under-the-hood” engine parts.
This three-month waiver is in effect for school bus driver applicants only, meaning those seeking commercial driver licenses with the School Bus (S) and Passenger (P) endorsements, along with the intrastate only (K) restriction. Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver are not authorized to operate trucks, motorcoaches, or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL.
“While we have done much at NJMVC to address the nationwide school bus driver shortage, implementing the federal waiver will help speed the CDL testing process and increase the pool of licensed school bus drivers in New Jersey,” said NJMVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “This will allow New Jersey schools and school bus contractors to hire additional, licensed drivers who are needed to address the critical shortage to get students safely to school.”
The latest action by the NJMVC is in addition to numerous other measures it has taken over the pandemic to ease the school bus driver shortage, including providing expedited CDL testing for school bus driver candidates by working with school bus operators, school districts, and driving schools and reducing the number of visits required for testing. It has also:
- Offered weekly bulk CDL skills testing in coordination with a variety of driving schools and transportation providers.
- Prioritized issuance and renewal of CDLs to get – and keep – school bus and truck drivers on the road.
- Waived the requirement that commercial learner permit holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test through Feb. 28, 2022.
For more information on school bus driver requirements and NJMVC services, visit NJMVC.gov.