Curt Macysyn, the executive director for the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) joined the weekly United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Town Hall on Sept. 15 to discuss the school bus driver shortage, electric school buses and more.
The UMA said in an email that yellow buses and motorcoaches have a lot in common, as they both transport students, work with local school personnel, and have prepared feverishly for the new school year.
“We share many of the same issues, and it will be good to hear some fresh approaches to mutual issues as we prepare for the new school year,” UMA president and CEO Scott Michael said.
Lowering barriers for new drivers
Macysyn, who shared his presentation to UMA members with School Transportation News, discussed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “Under-the-Hood” waiver and its implications for the school bus driver shortage. NSTA had declared the under-the-hood testing requirement of the commercial driver’s license skills test to be a barrier of entry for the position, resulting in the FMCSA issuing an initial 90-day waiver of the requirement, which ran from January through March 31.
It then granted an additional 90-day waiver that expires Sept. 30. Eight states—Florida, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin—have adopted the waiver, and more than 180 drivers have been licensed utilizing it, according to NSTA.
To further help school bus driver applicants, NSTA submitted a five-year exemption application to the FMCSA on June 24. In states that did not implement the waiver, the NTSA notes, officials often said they did not have enough time to change their licensing procedures. The agency said it believes that a five-year exemption will lead to more widespread adoption.
On Aug. 11, the FMCSA published the NSTA exemption application in the Federal Register for a 30-day comment period, which ended Monday.
Investing in Infrastructure and Jobs Act
Macysyn also discussed the Investing in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA), which included the five-year, $5 billion Clean School Bus Program. School bus contractors were not able to apply for the funds directly, similar to the Clean School Bus rebate program applications that closed last month. Additionally, he noted that the clause of five-year service requirements for school districts and contractors receiving the funds is a challenge, as contracts cannot be controlled.
Another area of interest Macysyn discussed was Docket No. FMCSA-2022-9979, “State Inspection Programs for Passenger-Carrier Vehicles.” The IIJA, in addition to implementing the Clean School Bus Program, directed FMCSA to “solicit comments on the agency’s April 27, 2016, advanced notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the potential establishment of requirements for states to implement annual inspection programs for commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport passengers,” the docket states.
NSTA submitted comments highlighting concerns over the potential duplicative Federal Inspection Program for passenger carrier vehicles. Instead, it believes that current self-inspection programs have proven to be effective and safe. The UMA reportedly opposes this as well.
Going forward, NSTA noted future areas of interest between NSTA and UMA, which include electric vehicles, CDL process alignment and catalytic converter theft.
UMA members can watch the entire presentation here.
Reprinted with permission from School Transportation News. Read the original post.