Sen. Robert Nichols talks about multi-year school bus driver shortage, his resolution

“Bus drivers have to have a commercial driver’s license,” he said. “Not because they go inter-state, across state lines, but because they drive on federally sup
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:59 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Each year we hear about the shortage of school bus drivers in many districts, and the pandemic only made it worse. One Texas senator has been working toward a resolution to this problem, one he said has been going on for many years.

“COVID is a little bit of it, but the real problem began about six years ago and I was there when it happened. The federal government, on a commercial drivers license, substantially raised the standards of what they need to know and do the physical driving test,” said Senator Robert Nichols.

He recently brought forth a resolution that urges congress to pass legislation that would allow licensing authority for public school bus drivers to the states, not the federal government.

“Bus drivers have to have a commercial driver’s license,” he said. “Not because they go inter-state, across state lines, but because they drive on federally supported highways.”

Before every session Nichols said he visits with all the school superintendents in his 19 counties.

“We always go over a list of issues, one of the issues is they’re having trouble getting school bus drivers,” he said.

Nichols said commercial driver licenses are aimed more toward truck drivers who are crossing state lines.

“For a school bus driver they require them to know a lot more than they really need. In other words they’ve got to be able to not only drive a school bus, but all the kind of driving things you need to be an 18-wheeler towing a trailer, and they don’t really need all that,” Nichols said.

The two main issues Nicholas said they’re seeing are time to get the test and the fact that it’s a much more rigorous test.

“They don’t necessarily pass the first time they do it. So then they have to reschedule and take it again,” he said. “And school bus drivers don’t make a ton of money, so it’s not worth it. So there’s a shortage of school bus drivers.”

What Nichols hopes can come of this resolution is, “For all of us in the legislature to come together and ask our Texas delegation, R’s and D’s, please make a modification in federal law so that Texas and all the other states can set their own standards for school bus drivers.”

Nichols said next the Lieutenant Governor will refer the resolution to the transportation committee, then he will hold a hearing next time they come together as a body, and get it passed to the house.

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