New York – The New York City Council today, passed landmark legislation co-sponsored by Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Chaim Deutsch, and Mark Treyger that will require tracking devices to be installed on yellow buses that transport students to and from schools. The bill had been introduced multiple times during the last several Council sessions by former Councilmember Michael Nelson, in conjunction with his then-staffer, current Councilmember Chaim Deutsch.
The current bill aims to tackle a serious concern, particularly at the beginning of the school year, when buses are routinely late, and parents have no idea where their children are. The situation has escalated in the past several years, with 82,000 complaints from parents in just the first few weeks of the 2018-19 school year, a 19% increase compared to the previous year. And this is not just a problem that parents and students experience at the beginning of the school year. Parents often have no indication of where their children might be for hours, as they are in transit traveling to and from school. During a snowstorm in November, for example, some students were stuck on buses for up to ten hours, as parents frantically tried to track down their missing children.
Councilmember Chaim Deutsch said, “As a father of five children, I’ve felt that fear of not knowing where my child is. Putting your precious child onto a school bus should not have to be a scary experience. The bottom line is, parents deserve to know where their children are. In cold or inclement weather, parents should not be left standing at a bus stop for absurd lengths of time, when there is a simple way to avoid that inconvenience. Technology has come so far in the last 10 years, where we are now able to install GPS on school buses inexpensively. This bill will ensure that parents get their power back. I’m proud to have worked on this for many years with my predecessor Councilmember Michael Nelson, and I’m grateful to my friend and colleague Councilmember Ben Kallos for leading the charge to get this done. While previous Councils have put politics before practicality, kudos to Speaker Corey Johnson for putting New York City children first.”
Councilmember Ben Kallos said, “”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. 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 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.”
The law will require both a two-way radio and a tracking device on every school bus transporting New York City students, and will allow authorized parents access to the information in real time. The newly passed bill will take effect for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.