It's going to be a fine day driving around my local college campus. I even drove a trolley home last night and parked it onsite. (Ten minutes to walk.)
It's a 40-foot "Trolley Replica Bus", that of course I need a CDL-B with passenger and airbrake in order to drive. If you need a job right now, or are thinking about a career change - driving jobs are desperate for anybody with a clean driving record and a pulse.
There's a reason for that, especially here in this Commonwealth. A CDL is just about impossible to get at the moment.Remember this horrific accident in New Hampshire?
As it turns out, the responsible driver was drunk, high, on his cellphone, and driving with a suspended license. He was able to slip through the cracks, because the RMV in Massachusetts has a long tradition of having it's head up it's ass.
So instead of trying to fix the problems - a few years back now, Governor Baker went "full draconian". Road exams used to be done by the Department of Transportation. But that was taken away and given to the Massachusetts State Police. The results were instant and dramatic.
Nobody could pass a road test anymore.
The DOT guys were calm and affable - and actually wanted you to succeed. They would coach, guide, and encourage, and as long as you were hitting all your marks (not literally!) it was OK to do things out of order, or not use the proper wording.
That all stopped abruptly. The State Police are assholes and want you to fail.
No lie - we sent drivers out in the pre-covid era to take their road test, and right at the beginning, one of the Troopers said to the group, "nobody is going to pass today". Another one failed one of our candidates because they used the word "secured" instead of "locked". Another fail was because the candidate gave the wrong range for when the airbrake relief valve would release. (Off by five PSI).
It became such a nightmare that one of our drivers with connections tried to get an audience with the Governor, but then COVID struck. In the last 18 months, just six of our drivers successfully passed the road test and got their CDL - compared to literally dozens in the year before the NH Motorcycle accident.
It's not just my company that's suffering - there's a statewide shortage of school bus drivers right now. It's actually not a bad gig. Last time I checked, they were getting $28/hour to drive schoolkids around. But if you're new to the business, you have the same problems getting a license. We're so shorthanded that the governor has called out the National Guard.
I have no idea how driving works in the military - but the few folks I have talked to about it told me that the military doesn't care about an actual license. Once you're trained to do it - you do it. We have Guardsmen right now training on passenger vans and smaller vehicles to drive around what are called "7D Vehicles
", and thus free up the real CDL drivers to take around the traditional yellow school bus.
But this all takes time. Usually about a month or so in the commercial industry. Not sure how efficient the military is at this sort of thing, but since those driver-candidates are all being trained by civilians, who knows?
In the end, though....this is a crisis of our own making.