University of Connecticut Transportation Services offers valuable bus service around campus, along with job opportunities for many students. Recently this semester, Transportation Services has hired back a significant number of alumni to continue working on campus as bus drivers. While it is imperative to keep UConn Transportation running smoothly and safely, at full operation with enough drivers, the decision to hire back such alumni raises questions about the department and concerns for the future.
Recently, the Department of Motor Vehicles of Connecticut has changed their testing standards for obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License, a requirement for UConn bus drivers. This change means there is no site large enough for Transportation Services to have potential new drivers undergo testing. One way to keep buses running while UConn Transportation works with the DMV to find a solution is to hire back alumni drivers, who already have their CDL certification from before the rule change. However, this is a temporary solution at best and may only exacerbate the problem. As new drivers may not be properly certified to take over when alumni drivers leave, UConn Transportation Services risks a significant shortage of bus drivers in the near future.
Such a shortage would have serious implications for the entire campus community. Many students are dependent on UConn Transportation services, whether to commute to class, jobs, or other extracurricular commitments. A fully functioning bus system is needed for the everyday happenings at any large university.
Furthermore, the lack of availability of bus driving positions for current students seeking on-campus jobs, not just alumni, is also a concern. By the time UConn Transportation Services finishes communicating and figures out the situation with the DMV, it may be well into the semester. New students have already found other jobs, or may not have the time to commit to going through a CDL training program.
Of course, UConn Transportation must comply with the DMV’s standards due to safety concerns. New student drivers must have the opportunities and time required to complete an intensive training process, given the difficulty and importance of the job for the UConn community. However, UConn Transportation’s decision to hire back such a significant number of alumni drivers risks mistaking a short-term solution for a long-term one. UConn Transportation must work immediately and closely with the DMV to move forward.