Council to Vote on Student Transportation Oversight Package Regulating City School Buses. Increased Oversight Measures to Include GPS Tracking Of Bus Locations

City Hall – The New York
City Council on Wednesday will vote on the Student Transportation Oversight
Package (STOP), which will strengthen oversight and increase safety measures on
the Department of Education’s school bus system. One of the safety measures
under this package of bills is a requirement that all school buses be equipped
with a two-way communication device and GPS tracking devices. This will help
increase oversight and keep parents aware of any delays a bus may encounter in
route.

In addition, the STOP legislation
increases reporting requirements for the DOE, including mandating that it
reports on bus route times, bus delay frequency, complaints about bus routes,
complaints about bus employees, and other school bus services. This package
also includes provisions requiring the DOE to create and distribute a school
bus transportation guide.

The Council will also vote on
legislation aimed at reducing the burden awning sign violations have placed on
small businesses. This legislation would establish a temporary program for
resolving outstanding judgments related to business awning sign violations. The
bill would also set in place a two-year moratorium on the issuance of
additional violations, as well as establish a waiver for all
work-without-a-permit penalties issued in relation to an awning sign from
December 28, 2017 onward.

Additionally, the Council will
vote on legislation that would require the Department of Records and
Information Services (DORIS) to list city agency reports on its website. DORIS
must also publicize on its website when the reports were last received and when
they are due next.

The Council will also vote on
legislation clarifying that for the purposes of enforcing prohibitions against
unauthorized commuter van services, the definitions of “for-hire vehicle” and
“commuter van” do not include a bus service operating pursuant to a contract
with any government.

Student Transportation
Oversight Package

Requiring Reporting On School
Bus Route Durations

Introduction 89-C, sponsored
by Council Member Andy King,
would require the Department of Education
(DOE) to report twice a year on the number of school bus routes scheduled to
take less than an hour, between one and two hours, and over two hours, and the
average length of time scheduled for school bus routes in each community school
district. The bill would also require DOE to share actual school bus
transportation times, as recorded by GPS trackers, with the Council twice a
year.

“I, as a working adult, have
at times become annoyed and frustrated after traveling an hour or more to get
to work. Now, imagine the frustration of a child at age 6, 13 or 17 who has 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. This piece of legislation is designed
to comprehend the travel times of all of our contracted school buses and bring
about a resolution to decrease the travel times for the betterment of our
children.  The bus companies and drivers
have a responsibility to our children, and to the parents, to not leave us
wondering why the travel time is so long for our children to get to school and
back home,” said Council Member Andy King

Requiring the Creation and
Distribution of a School Bus Ridership Guide

Introduction 451-B, sponsored
by Council Member Daniel Dromm,
would require the Department of Education
to distribute a School Bus Ridership Guide in hard copy and electronically to
all students and parents. This guide would include a description of eligibility
for school bus services, what the services entail, information for parents and
students living in temporary housing and students in foster care, and the
responsibilities of students and parents using DOE’s school bus services.

“This school bus ridership
guide will be an invaluable resource for all public school children and
families,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.  “It will inform parents on what they
should expect from those who transport our students to school every day.  By including information for students living
in temporary housing and foster care, and by mandating that the DOE posts
information on its website in the top 6 languages spoken in NYC, my legislation
ensures that the wellbeing of all our students is taken into account.  Once again, I thank Speaker Johnson and Chair
Treyger for their commitment to strengthening public education in our
city.”

Requiring the DOE to Report on
Procedures Related to Misconduct by an Employee of a School Bus Vendor

Introduction 926-B, sponsored
by Council Speaker Corey Johnson,
would require the Department of Education
(DOE) to share with parents and post on its website how parents can file a
complaint about a school bus employee, the process by which the department
investigates such a complaint, and the possible results of such an investigation.
The bill also requires DOE to share the protocols for school bus services in
inclement weather emergencies.

Requiring the DOE to Report on Complaints
and Investigations Relating to School Bus Transportation Services

Introduction 929-B, sponsored
by Council Member Joseph Borelli,
would require the Department of Education
(DOE) to report twice a year on all of the calls and complaints received from
parents and guardians about school bus services, the investigations DOE opened
into school bus employees, the number of those investigations that were
substantiated, and a description of outcomes taken by DOE in the event of a
substantiated investigation.

“It’s an honor for my bill to be
included as part of this school bus safety legislative initiative. Making bus
investigations and reports transparent and available to the public 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

Requiring the Placement of
Communication Devices and Tracking Devices on School Buses

Introduction 1099-A, sponsored
by Council Member Ben Kallos,
would require each school bus to be equipped
with a two-way radio or other communication device for allowing communication
with the operator of the school bus. This bill would also require each bus to
be equipped with a GPS tracking device, and require authorized parents and
guardians to have access to the real time location of their child’s school bus
whenever it is in use.

Requiring the DOE to Report
Policies and Goals Relating to the Provision of School Bus Transportation
Services

Introduction 1148-B, sponsored
by Council Member Ben Kallos,
would require the Department of Education
(DOE) to report twice a year on how school bus routes are determined, goals for
time limits for bus routes, and any other goals relating to school bus
services. This bill would also require the DOE to report twice a year a list of
school bus vendors who completed a dry run of their route as required by their
contract, and those bus vendors who are not in compliance with their
contractual obligations to complete dry runs. The bill would also require the
DOE to share with parents and guardians before the start of the school year
their child’s bus route, scheduled arrival and departure times, the vendor
assigned to such route, and how a parent can appeal or make a request about the
route. The bill would also require the DOE to let parents know daily if their
child’s bus is late arriving or departing school.

“No
parent should 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 child’s school bus is using an app on their
phone,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Sometimes the biggest
problems have simple solutions, I am confident this package of legislation will
make a real difference in the lives of kids and parents throughout our City.
Thank you to Education Chair Mark Treyger for his leadership and to Council
Member Chaim Deutsch who has spent 18 years working on this issue starting under
then-Council Member Michael Nelson. Lastly, thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson
for fast-tracking this bill so we get it implemented by the coming school
year.”

Requiring the DOE to Report on
School Bus Transportation Services

Introduction 1173-B, sponsored
by Council Member Mark Treyger,
would require the Department of Education
(DOE) to report twice a year on the department’s school bus services, including
the vendors providing school bus transportation to students, the number of
vehicles and employees used by such vendors, the number of bus routes and
transportation sites in use, the number of students using school bus
transportation including the type of students, and the categories of students
who are eligible for DOE transportation services. The bill would also require
DOE to report twice a year on the frequency of school bus delays and no shows.

“Many of our city’s families rely
on school buses to get their children to and from school in a safe and timely
manner, and they deserve better than the dismal conditions and service they
faced at the start of the school year and during Winter Storm Avery. This
legislation will provide access to comprehensive data about our city’s school
transit services, creating the layers of transparency and accountability we
need to work towards a safer way of getting our kids to and from school with
dignity and respect. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for lending this critical
package of legislation the necessary support,” said Council Member Mark
Treyger, chair of the Committee on Education.

Establishing Temporary
Programs and Procedures Related to Awning Violations

Introduction 728-B,
sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal
, would establish a temporary
program for the resolution of outstanding judgments resulting from accessory
sign (awning) violations. It would also establish a two-year moratorium on the
issuance of additional accessory sign violations, as well as a temporary
assistance program to facilitate the re-installation of accessory signs for
respondents who have already paid related penalties. This bill would also
establish an interagency task force to explore issues related to accessory
signs, and require the Department of Buildings to provide a report to the
Council that contains information about accessory sign violations. Finally,
this bill would establish a waiver of all work without a permit penalties
issued in relation to the hanging of an accessory sign from December 28, 2017
going forward.

“From day one, Intro. 728 has
been about delivering relief to small businesses. Walk up Fulton Street in my
district, or 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, or Union Street in Flushing,
and you can witness first-hand the toll that this enforcement blitz has taken
on our mom-and-pop shops, family-owned restaurants, and other small businesses.
The bill I am sponsoring will put a stop to that, and ensure we are working with
small businesses, rather than unfairly penalizing them for laws that most
didn’t even know existed. I want to thank my colleagues in the Council,
including Peter Koo, Justin Brannan, Carlos Menchaca, Kalman Yeger, Mark
Gjonaj, and Bob Holden for their work on this critical issue,” said Council
Member Rafael Espinal
.

Requiring the Online
Publication of Required Reports List

Introduction 828-A, sponsored
by Council Member Fernando Cabrera,
would require the Department of Records
and Information Services (DORIS) to list on its website all of the reports
required by law to be transmitted to the Council or Mayor. The list would
include relevant information such as their frequency, the law to which they are
responsive and the agency or agencies primarily responsible. The list would
also provide users with access to every instance of each such report that is
received by DORIS. For any report not received, DORIS would be required to
request such report from the relevant agency and post such request in place of
the report until the report is received. Finally, it would require copies of
reports to be sent to DORIS electronically, rather than by paper.

“Everyone can agree that
transparency is a critical component of responsive and effective
government.  This requires that accurate
and up-to-date information be easily available to the public.  A recent review revealed that several years
of reports from some major agencies- including the Department of Buildings-
were missing from the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS).  Intro 828-A would require the Department to
post a list of every report, document, study or publication required by local
law to be sent to the Council or the Mayor, along with a link to such report,
to its website. The bill would also require the Department to list all required
reports, when they were last received and when they are next due. If an agency doesn’t submit a required report
to the Department, the bill would require DORIS to send a request to the
responsible agency and to post this request to its website in lieu of the
report.  Intro 828-A will provide New
Yorkers greater access to information and make public the failure to provide
required reports,” said Council Majority Whip Fernando Cabrera.

Ensuring Enforcement of
Prohibitions Against Unauthorized Commuter Vans.

Introduction 1299-A,
sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams
, would clarify that for the
purposes of enforcing prohibitions against unauthorized commuter van services,
the definitions of “for-hire vehicle” and “commuter van” do not include a
public bus service operating pursuant to a contract with the city, any county
within the state of New York, the state of New York or any other state or local
government.

“We need to expand opportunities
for New Yorkers to access transportation options, particularly in areas underserved
by trains. That includes traditional buses as well as the commuter vans which
have been an invaluable asset to my and many communities. Supporting and
elevating legitimate commuter van operations in conjunction with the rest of
our transportation infrastructure is vital for communities across the city,”
said Council Member Jumaane Williams

###