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Knox Co. Schools starts training new bus drivers with "Transportation U" program

The program graduated its first 3 drivers in June. Before, they would rely on bus contractors for drivers.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Officials with Knox County Schools started a program to teach bus drivers in-house, instead of relying on bus contractors to train drivers. The program graduated its first 3 drivers in June, according to a press release.

The program, "Transportation U," gives people a chance to get the licenses and training they need to become bus drivers in one month. It was created in response to new regulations that required additional training for entry-level drivers, according to KCS officials.

Before the program was started, training was handled by contractors. By moving it in-house at Knox County Schools, officials said they hoped to make the training process more efficient and that it would increase the number of applicants who pass the CDL test on their first try.

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Officials also said they hoped to standardize bus driver training through the program. It includes training on how to safely disinfect and clean buses to prevent the spread fo COVID-19.

“We’re trying to improve this process by providing support and education to our drivers so that they can have better outcomes,” Ryan Dillingham said, Director of Transportation.

He also said that the program is rigorous. It combines classroom instruction with experience from a licensed trainer. Students participate 5 days a week for a minimum of 6 hours per day.

“This program is geared toward taking someone with no experience or licensure, and turning them into a bus driver in one month,” he said.

Applicants with previous experience will be able to continue using a modified training process. People can contact the Transportation Department at (865) 594-1550 for more information about the program.

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