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From the desk of Senator Charles Fuschillo: March 21, 2012

The announcement on the suspension of the N&Y Professional Service Line driving school’s license following allegations of fraud is yet another example of why we need greater oversight of the bus industry.

This scam, in which the school’s owners are charged with helping drivers cheat on the written commercial driver license exam for bus drivers, highlights the continuing problem of individuals trying to get behind the wheel of a bus without the proper qualifications.

Suspending the school’s license and requiring the immediate retesting of its commercial driving customers is another positive step in improving bus safety, but New York State must go further to weed out unfit, unqualified bus drivers.

Legislation I sponsor (S5171B) would require criminal background checks for all bus drivers. This would help prevent drivers from using aliases or false names to hide convictions of criminal offenses which would disqualify them from holding a license. At least 13 commercial bus drivers were arrested last year through DMV investigations for using an alias to fraudulently obtain a commercial driver’s license. The New York State Inspector General recommended requiring criminal background checks for all bus drivers in a September 2011 report investigating licensing and oversight of commercial bus drivers following the March 12, 2011 Bronx bus crash. The Senate has already passed the legislation. The Assembly should pass it immediately as well.

Bus drivers are responsible for their passengers’ lives and safety. Those who are unfit to handle that responsibility have no business behind the wheel, because the consequences can be deadly.  New York State should immediately approve this law to help keep these unqualified bus drivers from getting on the roads by beating the system.

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) is Chairman of the New York State Senate’s Transportation Committee. This release is dated March 5, 2012.