Students in Tiverton and elsewhere are having difficulty getting to school on time and parents are being made late for work because of a bus driver shortage, as Marcia Pobzeznik reports in the Newport Daily News. Here’s the bus company’s explanation:
The company has tried every way possible to attract potential drivers, [First Student Transportation General Manager Bill Roach] said. It has put up billboards at bus stops and advertised at movie theaters.
“We’ve gone to football games, local markets,” Roach said.
The efforts have succeeded in getting 56 candidates into the state’s 50-hour training program, he said. But it takes 20-30 days to get an appointment for a road test.
“It’s very discouraging. The road testing is the choke point,” Roach said.
There are just one full-time and two part-time road test agents for the entire state. They not only have to certify new drivers, but re-certify existing drivers, he said.
So, the state has set up an arduous regulatory regime for bus drivers. That is, the state has artificially restricted the number of bus drivers by requiring candidates to be approved (and reapproved and reapproved) by the state. And then the state doesn’t supply the road test agents (or some other system) to handle the demand for this mandatory service.
The state has to begin choosing its priorities, because from UHIP to the DMV to bus driver certification to infrastructure to everything, it isn’t accomplishing the basic tasks that it has set for itself. Of course, there’s money for crony capitalist tax breaks, flashy videos promoting the governor, vote-buying schemes by legislators, and disproportionate pay and benefits for union employees.
Given the tax burden throughout the state, money cannot be the issue. The issue is a government that claims for itself too much power and won’t use the bountiful resources it has to accomplish the tasks that it therefore must undertake.