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 must still obtain 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. 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.”
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.
“Alberta’s student transportation leaders have been asking for this change since 2019. It safely allows us to provide individualized training based on competency instead of a time-based format that does not take existing skills into consideration. I applaud Alberta for listening to our concerns and am excited for the improvements our communities will feel.”
“Alberta School Boards Association has been advocating for adjustments to MELT requirements as it has created hiring and retention challenges, resulting in school bus driver shortages and increased costs. We are pleased to see that school bus drivers will no longer require MELT and that specific training will remain in place to ensure the safety of students.”
“The CASS board of directors is pleased that training, specific to transporting students on school buses, will replace MELT as this approach will help address driver shortages while maintaining safety. ”
“The Student Transportation Association of Alberta has been asking for changes since the implementation of the MELT program in 2019. 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."
“The ASBCA expresses its satisfaction with the modifications made to reduce the prescriptive nature of the MELT program. This change will enable contractors to expedite the on-boarding of new drivers and improve the quality of service to families in Alberta.”
Transportation and Economic Corridors has also developed a new voluntary on-the-job training grant program for Class 1 drivers. Post-licensing training options will be created for industry by industry in partnership with the Alberta Motor Transport Association. This voluntary training program for licensed Class 1 drivers will be designed to provide participants with job-related skills, knowledge and competencies to meet the full scope of work performed by a commercial truck driver.
Both training programs (Class 1 and Class 2 licensees) will begin this year and are focused on helping alleviate labour shortages in key areas of the commercial driving industry within Alberta.
In March, Alberta’s government introduced regulatory changes to student transportation, adding 33,000 students who are now eligible for government-funded busing services. Alberta’s government is responding to this increased demand for busing services and bus drivers with additional student transportation funding, and by eliminating MELT for Class 2 drivers.
- 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.