New federal regulations mean no more new UConn student bus drivers

UConn busses, parked in the transportation lot, will now be less likely to be driven by UConn students. A new law has made it far more difficult to employ student bus drivers. (Neel Razdan/The Daily Campus)

Due to changes in federal regulations, it is now very difficult for the University of Connecticut to employ more students as bus drivers.

According to the new legislation, which was released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on March 4, all new commercial drivers must obtain training from a FMCSA-approved facility in order to receive an appropriate license.

The university has adapted the proposed changes, but the federal regulation has not officially changed yet.

Unfortunately for UConn students interested in becoming bus drivers, these regulations make it much more difficult to meet the qualifications necessary to work as bus driver.

“Applicants seeking a ‘Class B’ CDL (commercial driver’s license) – necessary for operating a heavy straight truck or a school bus, city transit bus, or motor coach – would be required to obtain a minimum of fifteen hours of behind-the-wheel training, including a minimum of seven hours of practice range training,” according to a press release issued by the FMCSA.

This is particularly challenging because UConn does not have a facility large enough nor the funds to accommodate training new drivers under these new rules.

“Federal training requirements to receive a CDL changed nationally earlier this year for entry-level bus and truck drivers, so we no longer train students to get that license,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. “We don’t have a training facility that meets the expanded requirements.”

Despite these changes however, students who have already obtained a commercial license or who choose to obtain one on their own can still apply for positions as bus drivers.

“If a student approached us with a current CDL with the proper endorsements, he or she would absolutely be eligible to apply for employment,” Reitz said.

So far, the new regulations have not reduced the staffing of UConn’s Transportation Services. However, there are concerns in the future that it may be more difficult to find new student workers as previously licensed students graduate.

“The new federal rules haven’t affected our staffing at this time, largely because we had several drivers from previous years who already held their CDL and returned to their positions this fall,” Reitz said. “We’re monitoring the situation to see whether it affects us in coming years, though.”

While there have been some changes in the hours of operations of certain bus lines, these changes are not a result of the new regulations.

“We have a full complement of drivers at this time, and our schedules haven’t been changed due to any staffing issues,” Reitz said. “We have made some minor schedule adjustments to buses that ran at non-peak times, but those changes were driven by low demand, not by staffing considerations.”

Correction:

An article on Sept. 21 titled “New federal regulations mean no more new UConn student bus drivers,” incorrectly stated that proposed federal regulations were implemented already. On March 4, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a statement regarding a proposed set of rules, however there are currently no changes in federal law for the requirements to obtain a commercial license. The University of Connecticut has already adapted to the proposed changes, but the federal regulation has is not officially changed.


Fatir Qureshi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at fatir.qureshi@uconn.edu.