NYAPT has engaged in advocacy for student and school bus safety for many years. We are proud of our impact on many key laws and regulations that govern our school transportation in New York. We believe our efforts help to keep our children and our school bus fleets safe and secure.
As professionals, we accept the responsibility for advocating before and educating public officials objectively and honestly about the needs of school transportation. We take our role as advocates very seriously. The safety and lives of our children are at stake. We are grateful for the work of our Legislative Committee and the Board of Directors in developing our public advocacy positions.
We are aware of the need to identify and execute measures that will make our operations ever more efficient without compromising safety. Accordingly, our advocacy efforts include recommendations that enhance performance, accountability and efficiency .
Below are key documents that reflect our positions on key issues and key source documents for our members to use. These documents begin with our overall Legislative Agenda which frames our efforts in the coming year.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) will advocate for the following school transportation priorities before the Governor, the State Legislature, and the Board of Regents, for consideration and action in the 2019-2020 State Budget:
Continue to Provide Sufficient Funding for School Transportation
Provide Funding in Support of Transportation Services for Universal Pre-Kindergarten Students
Allow Expenditures for School Bus Monitors to Be Eligible for Transportation Aid Reimbursement
Increase Funding for the School Bus Driver Training Program to a Level of $500,000 for and Target Increase to Necessary Training
Provide Funding for School Transportation Security Measures
Allow Expenditures for Transportation to Extra-Curricular and Inter-Scholastic Athletic Activities to be Eligible for Transportation Aid Reimbursement
Provide an Exception to the 2% Growth Cap for Unanticipated and Mandated Costs of Transportation
Provide Additional Funding for SED field staff to monitor school transportation operations and management
1) training related to safely transporting students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten programs. As we have discussed earlier in this agenda, there is a need for training of drivers and monitors as we see an increase in younger students on school buses;
2) training related to bullying prevention and response, consistent with Dignity Act requirements and best practices. NYAPT believes that school bus drivers and monitors must receive more extensive training in this area to ensure a positive and non-threatening climate on their school buses for all children;
3) training for drivers in security measures that will help them to protect the integrity of their bus, their riders and themselves in violent incidents. There have been incidents on school buses of violent intruders and school bus drivers are not prepared adequately to respond and keep our children safe; and
4) training related to special education classifications enumerated in the federal IDEA, and as required under “PJ’s Law.” For our children, this is an especially important area of need.
SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION STATE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES 2019-2020
ILLEGAL PASSING/STOP ARM CAMERA ENFORCEMENT
DRIVER READINESS & INTEGRITY
CRIMINAL TRESPASS & SECURITY ON A SCHOOL BUS
SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT
MANDATE RELIEF & EFFICIENCY MEASURES
ILLEGAL PASSING/STOP ARM CAMERA ENFORCEMENT
PRIORITY: NYAPT will continue and advance our advocacy for legislation to allow school buses to be equipped with state-of-theart and aid-eligible stop arm cameras and to allow for the use of evidence from those cameras in prosecuting illegal passers
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation that would provide for a portion of the fines collected to be dedicated for public education and school bus safety-related purposes
Illegal passing of school buses in violation of Section 1174 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law is a significant danger to our children in New York State. NYAPT estimates that motorists illegally pass stopped school buses more than 50,000 times per day in New York State. Clearly, this is unacceptable and a peril for our children.
Significantly, in October and November 2018, five children were killed by passing motorists including three in one incident. National attention has been given now to this issue of illegal passing and calls have been made for extraordinary measures, including camera usage.
Pilot projects and efforts in other states have demonstrated that the use of ‘stop arm cameras’ on school buses can and will enhance our ability to apprehend and successfully penalize these violators who place the safety of our children at risk.
Moreover, NYAPT will advocate for passage of related enforcement, operational and education-related legislation that would form a more comprehensive response to the troubling trends of illegal passing:
DRIVER READINESS & INTEGRITY
Support increasing fines for illegal passing convictions
Support creation of a dedicated education fund utilizing fines from 1174 convictions
Support legislation to establish a crime of vehicular assault for instances where an injury is caused to a child by a motorist while in the act of illegally passing a stopped school bus
Support legislation to establish a crime of vehicular homicide for instances where the death of a child is caused by a motorist while in the act of illegally passing a stopped school bus
Support legislation to increase the financial penalties on motorists convicted of violating Section 1174 (while using cell phone, if a CDL holder driving a vehicle of more than 26000 pounds)
Requires Drivers Education course for are convicted multiple times for illegally passing a stopped school bus
Requires DMV to include bus safety and illegal passing in driver instruction as well as in driving examinations
Prohibiting Stops that Require children to Cross three or more lanes involving two directions of traffic
Removing or Revising the Divided Highway Elements of Section 1174
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation that will amend Section 509(cc) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to update the inventory of disqualifying crimes for school bus drivers to ensure the safety of our children
NYAPT is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of qualifications for all school bus drivers and in seeking and retaining quality school bus drivers to transport our 2.3 million children.
The most important safety feature on every school bus is the school bus driver. We have witnessed several serious accidents around the nation in which driver qualifications were questioned and in which decisions by the school bus driver were considered part of the reason or cause for the accident.
At the same time, school districts and private contractors are facing the worse shortage of school bus drivers we have witnessed in many years. This is a situation faced by other elements of the truck and bus industry and needs to be addressed directly but within the confines of safety for our children.
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation that will establish a crime of criminal trespass on a school bus to protect our drivers, our students and our property.
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation that allows school buses to be equipped with advisory signage indicating that it is against the law to board the bus without the permission of the school bus driver.
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation or regulations that ensure that school bus drivers are provided incident management training as well as active shooter training and that such training and preparation are done consistent with school district annual safety plans
School bus safety extends beyond the usual concepts of driving safely and loading safely. In recent years, we have witnessed numerous incidents of individuals boarding school buses and causing problems including violent acts against students and drivers alike. In one dramatic situation, a school bus driver was shot and killed on the bus while defending his student riders.
In New York, dozens of such situations have been experienced aboard school buses. It is unacceptable that parents or other individuals would take it on themselves to board a bus and attack or verbally abuse a driver entrusted with the safety of the children or even the children riding on the bus. NYAPT believes there are several steps that must be taken to ensure safety and security on the school bus.
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation to require certified or qualified transportation professionals in each district.
PRIORITY: NYAPT will support legislation to create a statewide Civil Service school transportation director title and to establish specifications and qualifications for such positions.
The responsibilities of keeping our children safe on school buses each day are significant and require qualified managers and administrators at the operator and state agency levels. Recent school bus-related reports by the State Comptroller and the National Transportation Safety Board as well as recent well-publicized fatal accidents underscore the importance of effective and high quality management and state agency oversight and assurance.
Consistent with this, and cognizant of the evolving issues and increasingly complex environment in which school transportation services are provided, we are committed to ensuring the levels of quality, excellence and efficiency to which our children and taxpayers are entitled.
These will include:
NYAPT will support legislation to eliminate the mandate for backlit SCHOOL BUS signage on school buses in our state
NYAPT will support legislation that will allow for “piggy-backing” on transportation contracts in certain circumstances
NYAPT will support legislation that will remove financial penalties for “shared services” among school districts for transportation efficiencies
NYAPT will support legislation that advances the adoption of common annual calendars and flexible bell times to allow for increased efficiency in school transportation.
* Safety Issues: Board Policy Papers *
Universal Pre-Kindergarten & Transportation Click on the text to review NYAPT's white paper on transportation issues and needs related to Pre-Kindergarten students.
Safe Schools Transportation Recommendations Click on the text to review NYAPT's white paper and recommendations related to safety and security issues relating to school buses and school transportation facilities.
* State and Federal Regulations *
We are not currently reviewing any key State agency regulations.
We are not currently reviewing any key Federal agency regulations.