Editorial: Bus operations changing to meet new rules

UConn bus stops outside the Co-op. The U.S Department of Transportation's Federal Moto Carrier Safety Administration has updated their minimum required training for bus operators. (Zhelun Lang/ The Daily Campus)

As a result of updated federal training requirements for bus drivers the University of Connecticut is changing some of its operating procedures regarding transportation on campus. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established new comprehensive national minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators to obtain a commercial driver’s license or certain endorsements. These standards are scheduled to go into effect early next month.

As there is no training facility on campus that complies with these federal guidelines, UConn will no longer be able to train new student drivers on its own. Existing drivers will still be able to operate buses, but the number of student drivers will decrease as current drivers graduate. While some students could come to the university with proper certification or seek training elsewhere, UConn will be looking for companies to operate the bus routes on and near the campus. Therefore, even the few students with proper training will not be able to serve as bus drivers. Instead, whatever company takes over will utilize its own drivers.

This is unfortunate for the student body, as bus driving was one of the highest paid student jobs on campus. With increasing costs all-around at UConn, students are losing one of their best options for making cash on the side while completing their education. However, students will still be able to work other jobs within the transportation department. Students will still be able to drive shuttle vans, as they are not affected by the recent rule changes. There will also continue to be openings for dispatching and cleaning buses, ensuring a continuing large presence of student workers.

Students will still be operating buses through the spring semester, as the chosen company will not take over the routes until summer 2017. In addition, the university has expressed confidence that current drivers with good records and on-campus experience could be strong candidates for whatever company eventually takes over. They also anticipate providing part-time jobs and internships for students in marketing, social media and similar fields. While these new guidelines are a bit of a blow to student drivers, the transportation department at UConn has made it clear that they have the interests of students in mind and will continue striving to employ those studying at the university in some fashion.