How to Obtain a School Bus License

In order to drive a school bus, there are special requirements that the driver must fulfill. As of August 2011, according to the DMV, school bus requirements extend beyond obtaining a commercial license and passenger endorsement. A school bus endorsement or SPAB certificate is the additional requirement on top of a commercial license and passenger endorsement. Contact your local CHP office or the school district that you intend to work for to get more information on specific training locations. California Career School does not offer SPAB certification– but we can get you halfway there with the passenger endorsement training.

A SPAB (School Pupil Activity Bus) Certificate is specialized certification required for transporting minors to events like grad night, baseball games, field trips, etc. in Class A or B commercial vehicles. You can apply for SPAB with your local CHP where you will be fingerprinted & have a background check. Once you have been cleared, you will need to complete a 35 hour course (35 hours is the minimum requirement but depending on the program you choose, the course may be longer) consisting of 15 hours of classroom time and 20 hours behind the wheel. The course must be taught by a certified instructor (an approved list can be found by contacting your local CHP office). After you’ve completed the course, you will take a written test with the CHP (40 questions) and complete a driving test (includes pre-trip, road, skills). Once you’ve passed the written/driving tests you will receive a SPAB Certificate, which is valid for 5 years (after 5 years you must complete the entire process again to renew the certificate). In addition, SPAB drivers are required to complete 10 hours of recurrent classroom instruction or behind-the-wheel training each year. The training consists of, but is not limited to, current laws and regulations, defensive driving, accident prevention, emergency procedures, and passenger loading and unloading. (Source: Dept. of Education)

From the DMV school bus website: “This section does NOT provide information on all the state requirements needed before you drive a school bus with pupils aboard.”

BIT Inspection

Our buses were subject to an Annual Inspection as part of the Biennial Inspection of Terminals (BIT inspection) just this past week and our school successfully earned their satisfactory rating! The CHP’s highest mark is the satisfactory rating as listed on below.

In BIT inspection documentation, it shows that, “The CHP’s role is to determine whether carriers’ selected maintenance schedules are adequate to prevent collisions or mechanical breakdowns involving the vehicles, and all required maintenance and driver records are prepared and retained as required by law. These same basic requirements are applied to all carriers, large and small.”

A terminal rated satisfactory is one that is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Minor deficiencies or defects may exist as long as highway safety is not jeopardized.

Criteria for assignment of a Satisfactory rating include:

A) Vehicle/equipment condition reflects effective preventive maintenance practices.
B) Vehicle records reflect compliance with applicable mandated inspection intervals; clearly identify inspection, service, and lubrication intervals; document services and repairs performed; and reflect the actual condition of the vehicles.
C) Drivers’ daily vehicle inspections are performed and documented. Defects noted are corrected promptly.
D) Vehicles are not operated with out-of-service conditions or defects of a long standing nature.
E) Drivers’ timekeeping records are in use and are current. Retention intervals are complied with.
F) Drivers’ timekeeping records reflect compliance with hours-of-service requirements.
G) Records reflect compliance with DMV EPN requirements.
H) Required driver proficiency records are on file.
I) The terminal/shipper is in compliance with HM/waste requirements.

Our MCI-12 bus was the primary subject of this inspection and was assessed on these bus-specific items:

1) Do you perform a safety inspection at least every 45 days on each tour bus? VC 34505(a)
2) Do your 45-day safety inspections include at least the following: VC 34505(a)
(a) Brake adjustment?
(b) Brake system components and leaks?
(c) Steering and suspension systems?
(d) Tires and wheels?
3) Are defects which are noted during 45-day inspections corrected prior to operating the tour bus on the highway? VC 34505(b)
4) Do 45-day inspection records include: VC 34505(c)
(a) Identification of the vehicle including, make, model, license number, or other means of positive identification?
(b) Date and nature of each inspection and repair performed?
(c) The signature of your authorized representative attesting to the inspection and to the completion of all required repairs?
5) Are these inspection records retained for at least one year? VC 34505(c)

Students can rest assured that California Career School vehicles undergo regular maintenance to meet the standards as required by organizations such as the
California Highway Patrol.