The province is aiming to alleviate bus driver shortages across Alberta.
In its latest initiative, the province is removing mandatory entry-level training (MELT) for Class 2 licensees to help alleviate bus driver shortages.
According to a release, Alberta school boards have reported difficulty hiring and retaining new school bus drivers to provide safe transportation for students. Removing the MELT requirement for Class 2 drivers will make it easier for school boards and bus companies to hire and train drivers, helping to alleviate the ongoing school bus driver shortage.
Drivers still need to get the S endorsement on their licence if they will be driving a school bus. To obtain the S endorsement, drivers must first complete the school bus driver improvement program. The S endorsement will be added to their licence after they successfully complete the school bus driver improvement program, which consists of classroom training, practical training and knowledge assessments.
“Alberta is an outlier on requiring MELT for Class 2 licences, as no other province or territory in Canada requires it for their bus drivers,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors.
“Removing this requirement will make it easier for Albertans to obtain their Class 2 licence if they are able to demonstrate the required knowledge and skills during the knowledge and road test.”
On March 1, 2019, MELT became a new licensing requirement for Class 1 and Class 2 drivers in Alberta. As of March 31, 2022, there were 147,134 Class 1 drivers and 24,699 Class 2 drivers in Alberta. Alberta is the only province in Canada to mandate MELT for Class 2 licence holders.
Effective April 23, Class 2 drivers will no longer need to take MELT when seeking their Class 2 licence. School bus drivers will still be required to possess an S endorsement on their licence. Drivers need the correct class of driver’s licence for the type of school bus they will drive. The required class of licence for a school bus is decided by its designed seating capacity.
A new voluntary on-the-job training program for Class 2 and Class 4 school bus drivers will be available by the end of April to support drivers, ensuring they have the skills required to operate a school bus safely. Drivers will get hands-on experience in their work environment using equipment and experiencing real-life scenarios that occur as they do their job.
“The Student Transportation Association of Alberta has been asking for changes since the implementation of the MELT program in 2019,” said David Shaw, president of the Student Transportation Association of Alberta.
“This change will allow school divisions and contractors to provide individualized training based on competency instead of a time-based format that did not take existing skills into consideration. I applaud the Alberta government for listening to our concerns and we as an organization are excited to be able to work with all new drivers in providing a targeted training based on their skill level.”