New bill aimed at getting more bus drivers in Illinois

House Bill 1688 is aimed at addressing the ongoing bus driver shortage.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:16 PM CST
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VIENNA, Ill. (KFVS) - Getting kids safely to school often means depending on the skills of the bus driver picking them up.

However, many states are struggling to get drivers in seats. Now, Illinois lawmakers are tackling that problem.

“If they implement this, it will help us greatly, in opening opportunities for people to work for us,” said Ron Gorst, operations director of Shawnee Mass Transit.

Shawnee Mass Transit is the among the hundreds of bus services across the state who needs drivers.

House Bill 1688 is aimed at addressing the ongoing bus driver shortage.

The measure will clarify training requirements for drivers operating division one vehicles, those are vehicles that carry 10 or fewer people, such as mini-vans or even cars.

“It would allow us to basically open more opportunities for people to, one, get their CDL along with the passenger endorsement to safely and effectively get people to their destination,” said Gorst.

Durham Bus Services provides transportation services for school districts in southern Illinois.

In statement the company said, “This will help school districts and bus contractors fill open driver positions more quickly for small vehicles, but it is for a small percentage of our routes.”

Most of Durham’s vehicles are the larger buses that carry 10 or more people, also known as division two vehicles. Durham said right now that have enough drivers to service all their routes.

Shawnee Mass Transit said they are constantly training drivers.

“By having in place, since we opened the doors of having training from simple CPR, to annual driver refresher courses from wheelchair tie downs, to actual refresher courses on actual driving,” Gorst added.

More on HB 1688 can be found here.