PennDOT modernizes commercial driver’s skills test to address bus driver shortage

PITTSBURGH — As kids head back to school, districts across Pennsylvania are dealing with an ongoing bus driver shortage.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration recognizes that districts have been dealing with this shortage since the COVID-19 pandemic. So, PennDOT is working to attract more bus drivers by changing the commercial driver’s license skills test.

It’s a change PennDOT says makes sense.

The hope is that by updating the test, more people will be successful with passing it.

Buses have changed and modernized over the years — so starting on Aug. 28, PennDOT will waive the “Under the Hood requirement” for bus drivers. This means that potential school bus drivers no longer need to take the portion of the CDL test that requires them to identify engine components.

That’s the portion of the test that Todd O’Shell, the Vice President of Operations for ABC Transit, says applicants get frustrated with.

“I think it’s a relief to a lot of people because for the majority of the people who got through our program, our training program, that is the biggest hang up because they don’t understand the engine components,” O’Shell said.

He agrees, the test could help recruit more drivers because it will be specific to bus drivers.

“It allows us to bring people in to become school bus drivers and retain them, lot of times we will lose ppl to the trucking industry or the garbage industry,” O’Shell said.

Potential bus drivers will still need to pass the CDL skills test, which includes a pre-trip inspection, basic control and a road test.

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