State officials believe this plan will get more bus drivers on the road very quickly. Do you think it will work?

On Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a plan to help address a critical shortage of truck and bus drivers. Her plan involves significantly expanding the availability of road tests for Commercial Driver License (CDL) applicants.

The initiative would allow qualified third parties to offer the road tests, which would create more testing locations statewide and expand capacity at the existing state-run sites. Officials believe this will greatly reduce the time it takes to get qualified CDL drivers on the road.

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"As we continue to fight this pandemic, we remain committed to expanding opportunities for New Yorkers, supporting our schools, and doing all we can to address the supply-chain issues that have affected many businesses throughout our state and country," Hochul said. "By enabling third parties to give the road test for truck and bus drivers, we will create new avenues for New Yorkers to begin exciting careers, for our children to get to school, and to ensure that vital goods get where they need to be."

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, January 26, to hear and review comments on the plan. The hearing will take place virtually via WebEx from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be open for public comments following a brief introduction by DMV representatives. Written comments may be submitted to CDLThirdPartyTesting@dmv.ny.gov from January 18 to February 4.

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During the public hearing, the DMV will provide an overview of the proposal that calls for a phased rollout of this initiative that would initially allow other state agencies and authorities that have large fleets of commercial vehicles to begin conducting CDL road tests.

The second phase would include qualified private entities. The DMV will establish a rigorous monitoring system to ensure that qualified CDL trainers safely administer the road tests in compliance with state and federal regulations, officials say.

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The DMV will use the feedback gathered during the public hearing to evaluate and develop an implementation plan.

"We at DMV know how important it is to have qualified truck and bus drivers on the road, and we are committed to doing what we can to address the need," DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said. "We look forward to gathering public input at this hearing and then acting to enable qualified third parties to offer CDL road tests to give New Yorkers greater opportunity to take the test and to get good jobs driving these essential vehicles."

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This new proposal is part of a series of actions taken by the State under Governor Kathy Hochul's leadership to remove barriers and recruit more drivers. In September, Governor Hochul introduced a variety of measures by multiple state agencies to address a shortage of school-bus drivers.

As part of that effort, the DMV expedited the process for obtaining a CDL by removing the 14-day waiting period between the permit test and the road tests. The state also increased capacity to administer road tests and, through cooperation with county-operated DMV offices, to increase testing capacity for written exams.

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In addition, New York opened new CDL Driver Testing sites by partnering with SUNY, the Thruway Authority, New York Racing Association, and the Office of General Services to use large lots on their various sites for a road test. For school staff who held an existing CDL, the State set up expedited testing to obtain a permit that allows them to drive vans and buses temporarily.

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