Effective January 7 through March 31st, New Jersey applicants for school bus driver licensing will not be required to take the “under-the-hood” portion of the exam. All other components of the written and skills test will remain.
This reflects a waiver issued earlier this week by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to alleviate a critical shortage of school bus drivers nationwide, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. School bus driver license applicants will still be required to pass all of the safety elements of the exam and skills test such as checking lights and safety bars before each trip.
The only portion of the exam that will be waived is the engine compartment component of the CDL skills test, which is the requirement for applicants to identify “under-the-hood” engine parts.
This three-month waiver is in effect for school bus driver applicants only, meaning those seeking commercial driver licenses with the School Bus (S) and Passenger (P) endorsements, along with the intrastate only (K) restriction. Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver are not authorized to operate trucks, motorcoaches, or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL.
“While we have done much at NJMVC to address the nationwide school bus driver shortage, implementing the federal waiver will help speed the CDL testing process and increase the pool of licensed school bus drivers in New Jersey,” said NJMVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “This will allow New Jersey schools and school bus contractors to hire additional, licensed drivers who are needed to address the critical shortage to get students safely to school.”
Alongside federal action to mitigate the nationwide school bus driver shortage, the NJMVC has taken the following steps over the course of the pandemic to put as many school bus drivers on New Jersey’s roads as safely and quickly as possible:
Provided expedited CDL testing for school bus driver candidates by working with school bus operators, school districts, and driving schools.
Reduced the number of required visits for testing, so that multiple CDL steps can be completed in a single visit, effectively shortening the time required for training.
Offered weekly bulk CDL skills testing in coordination with a variety of driving schools and transportation providers.
Prioritized issuance and renewal of CDLs to get – and keep – school bus and truck drivers on the road.
Waived the requirement that Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test through February 28, 2022.