School Bus Fleet
Published on November 10, 2022
By Amanda Huggett
NEW YORK’S THIRD-PARTY CDL TESTING
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While we’ve all been feeling the pressure of the driver shortage, the state of New York and its DMV stepped up to offer an alternative solution: It put together a new program to allow third parties to offer CDL testing.
The move came after voiced concerns of the rigorous requirements weren’t helping ease the driver shortage. Following a phased approach announced in January by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, the intent was to create more testing locations across the state and expand capacity at state-run sites to reduce the time it takes to put new qualified drivers on the road.
Public and private organizations, including schools, tour bus, bus contractors, and truck companies, are eligible to apply for certification through the state DMV’s website.
Nick Vallone of Rolling V. Bus Corp and president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) walked us through the process to get the new program off the ground, which was done with regulation rather than legislation, he said. “Our proactive efforts of pitching this solution to the media and elected officials really paid off when the driver crisis hit home in September 2021. Once this became an issue that crossed the desk of the governor, they were already familiar with the concept of third-party testing and quickly gave the directive to the DMV to establish a third-party testing division.”
So far, Vallone says the results are phenomenal. “We’ve seen an increase in failures at our site, but that has been severely overshadowed by our ability to re-test within a few days,” he said. “In short, we’ve gotten a single candidate through three tests (two fails followed by a pass) in a matter of three weeks without sacrificing an ounce of safety. To get three tests done for the same individual through the DMV used to take 10 to 12 weeks.”
Tammy L. Mortier, NYSBCA’s executive director, agrees, calling it a tremendous benefit for the school bus contractors that are certified. “The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Third Party CDL Testing program has been an excellent opportunity to help our members with the driver shortage by allowing certified school bus operators to provide private road tests at their facilities,” Mortier said. “This is a huge time saver to get qualified CDL drivers on the road. It's not an easy process, and you must comply with stringent federal and state guidelines to become certified and maintain your certification. Safety is always our number one priority. DMV has been a wonderful partner in this program as we work together to find solutions to the driver shortage.”
Vallone said at least 10 organizations have applied so far, and five are already up and running. It’s not just a program for contractors, though. Recently, Bethlehem Public Schools became a certified third-party tester.
Pennsylvania has had a similar program for years.