LEWISTON – Five school bus drivers found to be operating without proper permissions earlier this week could be back on their routes once they obtain correct license endorsements.

Lynette Viviani, a spokeswoman for Hudson Bus Lines, said a misinterpretation of school bus license regulations led to the issue being uncovered Tuesday.

The five drivers, she said, were in possession of Class C commercial license endorsements as they drove students to and from local schools. That endorsement allows for the operation of a vehicle with a weight of 26,000 pounds or less.

What the drivers are required to have are Class S endorsements, permitting them to drive school buses designed to carry more than 15 passengers.

The drivers were properly licensed to shuttle students in any of the 12 Hudson minivans, Viviani said, but not the buses.

The drivers lacking proper endorsements were pulled from their bus routes as soon as the issue was uncovered, Viviani said. A check of other drivers at Hudson revealed no further problems and when it was time for the Wednesday morning school bus routes, there was no shortage of drivers.

At Hudson Bus Lines on Bartlett Street, general manager Todd McCollough and his staff were conducting an internal investigation into the matter. So were officials at Student Transportation of America, the group that owns the bus line.

Meanwhile, school transportation officials in Lewiston said there were plans in place to make sure there will be no similar oversights.

“We’ll be putting together a system of auditing to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Transportation Director Butch Pratt said. “Obviously, there was a glitch in the present system.”

Pratt said his staff will make it a matter of routine to check the license endorsements of all new drivers who take the road for Hudson. At the same time, he and other school officials stressed that the bus company responded immediately when the problem came to light and that there were no indications that the five drivers had performed badly.

“There have been no complaints of bad driving on the part of these drivers,” Pratt said, “or that they put any kids at risk.”

Hudson employs roughly 45 drivers who operate 27 full-size buses, seven mini-buses and a dozen mini-vans to transport about 2,700 children each day.

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