When Winter Storm Avery hit NYC on November 15, 2018, the accumulating mix of snow and ice combined with limited snow removal resulted in school buses stranded for hours. Consequently, parents, guardians, activists, and City Council members pushed for increased transparency and efficiency for NY school buses. In their first session of the year, NYC’s City Council passed the Student Transportation Oversight Package (STOP), which among other things, will place GPS trackers and two-way radios on all school buses in the city.
“Every year, the start of the school year, starts with nightmares, of children who get stuck on buses for hours, leaving parents wondering where their children are,” said NYC’s Councilmember Ben Kallos, on the addition of GPS trackers. “We can do it with Uber, the MTA does it with buses. None of this is new.”
Part of the package will allow approved parents and guardians to view the live GPS location of their children’s school buses, allaying the most severe concerns for tardy buses. Additionally, the Department of Education will be required to send notices of late NY school bus arrivals and departures on a daily basis.
“Imagine the frustration of a child aged six, thirteen or seventeen who’s had to endure an hour of travel time and then is expected to function well in the classroom. It’s a struggle for a child,” said Councilmember Andy King. “Bus companies and their drivers have a responsibility to us and parents to not leave us wondering why travel time is so long for our children to get to school and come home.”
STOP also requires the Department of Education to make scheduled New York City school bus routes public at least fifteen days before school starts, provide more extensive training for bus drivers who transport students with disabilities, and to report on details like the department’s policies for handling complaints against bus drivers and the number of investigations into drivers twice a year.
“We want to make sure we get kids to and from school safely, quickly and transparently,” said NYC Speaker Corey Johnson.