Speaker Corey Johnson, Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger and Council Members Announce Student Transportation Oversight Package

The “STOP” legislation includes mandatory disclosure of DOE’s Office of Pupil Transportation procedures and implementing GPS technology on school buses

City Hall, NY – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger and Council Members today unveiled the Student Transportation Oversight Package (STOP), a comprehensive package of legislation to increase transparency around the Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation operations, increase oversight over bus activity, and increase efficiency in bus services, including by requiring GPS tracking for yellow school buses transporting New York City’s students.

This package, which was heard today at the Council’s Committee on Education, comes after a series of reports of corruption and mismanagement within DOE, and complaints from parents and educators about bus services, ranging from no-show buses or missing students, to significant school bus delays and concerns about school bus drivers.

The Council’s Data Operations Unit analyzed data concerning these bus delays as self-reported by bus companies. School buses that were delayed ran an average of more than 28 minutes late – some were delayed considerably longer. Reasons for school bus delays include many mechanical problems and heavy traffic. View the Council’s data report here.

“When parents put their children on a school bus, they expect their kids will travel safely and arrive on time. The recent issues we have seen, with buses failing to show up and students left stranded hours on end, are terrifying, especially for students with disabilities and very young children. What a horrible way to start the year for these kids and families. We must do everything to ensure our students’ safety and alleviate distress for their parents. The Council’s Student Transportation Oversight Package (STOP) is a step forward to protecting children riding school buses. Disclosing the Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation’s procedures and data and installing GPS technology on school buses will provide much needed relief to parents, DOE employees, and school bus operators alike, but most significantly, will help keep our children safe,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

“Parents have enough to worry about without having to be concerned for the safety or whereabouts of their children during school bus rides. The reports and complaints we have received right from the start of this new school year echo issues parents have raised for some time. Under the leadership of Speaker Johnson, the Council is acting to address these concerns and give parents the peace of mind they deserve. This legislative package will increase accountability, create more transparency, and most importantly, ensure the safety of our children,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.

Descriptions of each piece of legislation are as follows:

  • Introduction 926: Requiring the Department of Education (DOE) to report on Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT)’s policies and procedures for handling complaints about bus drivers (Speaker Corey Johnson)
  • Introduction 929: Requiring DOE to report on the number of complaints and investigations into bus drivers initiated each quarter (Council Member Joseph Borelli)
  • Introduction 1099: Requiring school buses to be equipped with two-way radios, cell phones and GPS systems (Council Member Ben Kallos) 
  • Introduction 451: Requiring DOE to share a School Bus Bill of Rights (Council Member Daniel Dromm)
  • Proposed Introduction 89-A: Requiring DOE to report on average student transportation times (Council Member Andy King)
  • Preconsidered Introduction ___: Requiring DOE to report on student transportation services, including the number of vehicles, staff, routes, and delays, disaggregated by company contracted with, as well as ridership numbers (Council Member Mark Treyger)
  • Preconsidered Introduction ___: Requiring DOE to make scheduled bus routes public at least one month before the start of school, and requiring DOE to report on how routes are determined and goals for how busing can better serve student needs (Council Member Ben Kallos)
  • Resolution 540: Calling for more extensive training for bus drivers who transport students with disabilities (Public Advocate Letitia James)

“No parent should have to wonder where their child is or when their child is finally getting home from a school bus ride gone off track. Parents would rest assured knowing when and where their school bus is to pick up or drop off their child using an app on their phone. After trying to work with the Office of Pupil Transportation for years I am disappointed that despite every promise parents still don’t know where a school bus is with their child. Thank you to Education Chair Mark Treyger for his leadership, Council Member Chaim Deutsch who has spent 18 years working on this issue starting under then Council Member Michael Nelson,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. 

“It’s an honor for my bill to be included as part of this school bus safety legislative initiative. Greater transparency is critical to maintaining the trust parents have in the school bus system. Every parent feels anxious when someone else is responsible for their child’s safety, however brief, and these bills will provide additional protections and give parents access to the information they need when they make requests to the Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation. I’d like to thank Speaker Corey Johnson and Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger for making school bus safety a priority and moving these bills closer to law,” said Council Member Joe Borelli.

“This package of school bus safety legislation will help ensure that all students have safe and timely transportation to and from school. No-show buses, massive delays in service and unsuitable drivers negatively impact parents, children and educators alike. These bills will help restore parents’ confidence in yellow school buses by implementing new safety measures, improving bus procedures, and ensuring that families using DOE transportation are aware of their rights. I am pleased to work with Speaker Johnson, Education Committee Chair Treyger and my colleagues on this important effort which will keep our students safe,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. 

“New York City’s children should always be safe while traveling to and from school. Yet our school buses have been unreliable at best, and dangerous at worst. With the City Council’s school bus safety package, our City’s parents can rest assured knowing their children will be better protected while receiving their education. Keeping our children safe‒whether at school or on the way to school‒will always be our top priority,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

 

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