Does Your Bus Need a CDL?

By: Darin Lawson Hosking

One of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the shuttle bus market is whether or not their bus will require a CDL permit to drive?

Many businesses, churches, and other organizations use shuttle buses and must be aware of the federal requirements. It is very important to understand what those requirements are for driving shuttle buses and also to understand the why these regulations were established.

Listed below are the Federal Requirements and Missouri Requirements for Commercial Drivers Licenses.

In 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Act was designed to remove unsafe and unqualified drivers of heavy trucks and buses from the nation's highways. The Act required the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue regulations establishing guidelines and standards for the testing and licensing of CMV drivers. These guidelines and standards were established in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Chapter 49, Part 383. All states adopted these licensing guidelines and standards in April 1992. The commercial driver's license requirements are applicable to drivers transporting persons or property in either interstate or intrastate commerce.

There are three types of Federal CDL licenses and are listed as follows:
Class A -- Required for a combination vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more and towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds.
Class B -- Required for a single unit vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 lbs. GVWR.
Class C -- Any vehicle, regardless of weight rating, transporting hazardous material in any amount requiring the display of placards by 49 CFR, part 172, subpart F, or designed to transport 16 passengers or more, including the driver.

In addition to the proper classes, there are several endorsements which can be added. To be licensed these certain types of commercial vehicles, extra testing is required. If you pass, you will receive the endorsement on your CDL. There are the five endorsements that you can apply for in the state of Missouri. Each requires between one and five knowledge (written) tests, and two require driving (skills) tests.

* Double/Triple Trailers (knowledge test only)
* Passenger (knowledge and skills tests)
* Tank Vehicle (knowledge test only)
* Hazardous Materials (knowledge test only)
* School Buses (knowledge and skills tests)

A bus will require a CDL permit if the bus weighs more than 26,000 lbs. GVWR. A bus will also require a CDL if it has more than 15 passengers (including the driver) regardless of the weight. A bus will require a (P) passenger endorsement along with the CDL if there are more than 15 passengers (including the driver). These are federal regulations.

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