New law could lead to longer bus trips for some students
A new law does not permit students to cross any lanes of traffic to reach their bus stop and prevents bus drivers from picking up or dropping off children while the bus is in a lane of traffic.
The law does not permit students to cross any lanes of traffic to reach their bus stop and prevents bus drivers from picking up or dropping off children while the bus is in a lane of traffic.
The law was passed after a 6-year-old New Orleans boy was fatally killed by a passing motorist while crossing the road to his school bus stop in February. However, the law has drawn concern from school districts across the state because it will likely increase transportation costs and add additional time to bus routes.
For instance, buses will now have to go all the way down a street to drop off and pick up students on the right side of the road before turning around and going back down the same street to pick up or drop off students on the other side of the road.
“There is a possibility that it would extend the time for some students on some buses,” Pat O’Malley, administrator of ancillary services for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said.
He added that the new law is expected to increase transportation costs and could lead to the purchase of additional buses by the school system.
The school system already had measures in place to avoid a dangerous accident on heavily-traveled streets, which the district refers to as “no cross streets.”
“These are streets with a steady flow of traffic that students are not allowed to cross going to or from a bus stop,” O’Malley said. “We will continue to identify and review existing policies related to bus transportation and continue efforts to ensure the overall safety of all students at all times.”
However, now every road in the parish becomes a no cross street.
The law went into affect shortly before the start of the new school year and O’Malley said he doesn’t feel that the transportation department was given adequate time to plan around the changes.
“But with any new laws that are passed, we work as quickly as possible to ensure compliance,” he said. “Our transportation department has been working diligently all summer to prepare for a safe and smooth opening of the school year as we do every year.”
O’Malley said that the Louisiana School Board Association has asked for an attorney general’s opinion regarding the new law.
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