Overview

If you have a Class 1, 2 or 4 driver’s licence and want to drive a school bus in Alberta, you must take the School Bus Driver Improvement Program to get the S endorsement on your driver’s licence.

As part of this program’s new requirements, the definition of a school bus has changed. If your organization uses vehicles that meet the definition of a school bus, anyone who drives these vehicles must have an S endorsement on their commercial driver’s licence by July 31, 2020. See the School Bus Policy for more information.

New school bus drivers

Effective March 1, 2019, unless you have received an extension, all new Class 1 or Class 2 school bus drivers must:

Existing school bus drivers

Effective March 1, 2019, the legal definition of a school bus has changed. If your organization uses vehicles that meet the new definition of a school bus, anyone who drives these vehicles must have an S endorsement on their commercial driver’s licence. See the School Bus Policy for more information.

MELT extension for new school bus drivers

New school bus drivers will have until July 31, 2020 to apply for an extension to comply with the MELT program for new commercial drivers and to get their required School Bus Driver Improvement Program S endorsement. To be eligible, school bus providers must apply for the extension by filling out the application form (PDF, 163 KB) on behalf of their employees.

How it works

Drivers approved for an extension will have until July 31, 2020 to:

  • study the Commercial Driver's Guide to prepare for testing
  • take and pass the pre-MELT knowledge and road tests to get their Class 2 driver's licence
  • get their S endorsement training

New school bus drivers are still encouraged to take the MELT program, but it is not mandatory during the extension period.

Government is reviewing the driver history of Class 1 and 2 drivers to determine if they will be required to retest in order to keep their commercial licence. Only drivers who got their licence under the pre-MELT system and who have a clean driving record will be considered, and will receive a letter in fall 2019 with details about these changes and any required next steps.

Keeping your commercial licence

You will receive a letter from Driver Programs and Licensing Standards (DPLS) with details about your driving record and whether you will have to take the MELT-enhanced knowledge and road tests to keep your commercial licence.

  • Drivers with clean driving records (that is, no demerits, violations or suspensions) will not have to re-test.
  • Drivers with demerits, violations or suspensions will have to re-test or complete other requirements to keep their commercial licence.

If you want to check your driving record while you wait for your letter, you may request a copy of your driver abstract from any Alberta registry, for a fee. Otherwise, your letter from DPLS will provide you this information for free.

Class 2 requirements

Drivers must meet all other Class 2 requirements:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have a non-probationary Class 3, 4 or 5 valid Alberta driver's licence (Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program drivers are not eligible for a Class 2 driver’s licence)
  • have an approved Class 2 Alberta driver’s medical examination report completed by a physician
  • have successfully completed the Air Brake (Q Endorsement) Program, if applicable

S endorsement extension for existing school bus drivers

The Registrar of Motor Vehicle Services has issued a permit that will give existing Class 1, 2 or 4 school bus drivers until July 31, 2020 to get their S endorsement. School bus drivers transporting students are required to print and maintain one of the dated permits below in the school bus:

As of August 1, 2020 all school bus drivers must have the S endorsement on their driver’s licence, regardless of the class of licence they hold.

How it works

Step 1. Complete classroom training

You must participate in a classroom training session delivered by a licensed driver training school in Alberta.

The classroom training is a minimum of 15 hours and includes 5 series:

  • Series 1: School Bus Inspection and Maintenance
  • Series 2: Loading, Unloading and Transporting Passengers/Passenger Management
  • Series 3: Bus Manoeuvres/Defensive Driving
  • Series 4: Emergencies, Bus Evacuations, First Aid, Emergency Equipment and Mechanical Breakdown
  • Series 5: Passengers with Disabilities, Mobility Aids and Child Safety Seats

Each student is provided with a copy of the School Bus Operator’s manual as a reference and study guide.

Step 2. Pass knowledge assessments

Knowledge assessments are completed under the direct supervision of the driving instructor after each series. You have 3 attempts to pass each knowledge assessment.

Step 3: Complete practical training

Once you complete the classroom training and pass all 5 series knowledge assessments, you must participate in the practical training session.

Step 4. Pass pre-trip inspection assessment and on-road assessment

You must pass a pre-trip inspection assessment.

You must pass a 45-minute on-road assessment.

Only one practical re-assessment is allowed before additional training is required.

The re-assessment must be conducted on a different day.

The licensed driver training school and the student will determine additional training requirements.

Once you pass the on-road assessment, you will be issued a Notice of Driver Education Course Completion form.

Step 5. Go to registry agent

Bring the Notice of Driver Education Course Completion form to any Alberta registry agent to get the S endorsement added to your driver’s licence. A government fee and a service charge will apply. The S endorsement will appear on your driver’s licence card.

There is no renewal requirement for the S endorsement.

You must have a valid Alberta driver’s licence to get the S endorsement. You are not eligible if you have a suspended driver's licence.

Class 2-S Mandatory Entry-Level Training

See Mandatory Entry-Level Training Program for Class 1 and 2 driver’s licences for information on this program.

Additional training

In addition to the S endorsement training, school bus drivers can complete the Pre-employment School Bus Operator eLearning Program which consists of the following topics:

  • Pre-Trip Inspection and Maintenance
  • Loading and Unloading Passengers
  • Passenger Management
  • Defensive Driving
  • Emergencies

Resources

School Bus Driver Improvement Program School Bus Operator's Manual

Review of School Bus Collisions in Alberta

Ensuring the Safety of our Children: a Report on School Bus Safety in Alberta

School Bus Policy

Contact

Connect with Driver Programs and Licensing Standards:

Edmonton office

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-8230
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: trans.driver.prog@gov.ab.ca

Address:
Driver Programs and Licensing Standards
Alberta Transportation
1st Floor, Twin Atria Building
4999 98 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T6B 2X3

Calgary office

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-8230
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: trans.driver.prog@gov.ab.ca

Address:
Driver Programs and Licensing Standards
Alberta Transportation
1st Floor, Willowglen Business Park
803 Manning Road NE
Calgary, Alberta  T2E 7M8