|Seat Belt Bills Proposed in Multiple US States
Article Source: School Bus Fleet (US)
Article Date: January 30, 2017
Illinois, Utah, and Washington are among states considering legislation that would require school buses to be equipped with seat belts.
In Illinois, Sen. Ira Silverstein is sponsoring SB75, which, as of July 1, 2017, would require all new school buses to have seat belts for each passenger.
SB75 would also require that the state board of education put rules in place to ensure that school districts require all passengers aboard the buses wear seat belts, but school bus drivers would not be liable for the failure of passengers to wear the belts.
Meanwhile, Utah Rep. Craig Hall has sponsored HB132, which would require any new school buses purchased after June 30, 2017, to be equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts. As with SB75 in Illinois, school bus drivers as well as other school district employees would not be liable for an injury that resulted from “a passenger’s use, non-use, or misuse” of a seat belt. Unlike the Illinois bill, HB132 would not require ensuring use of the belts.
The Utah bill passed through the House Transportation Committee and is headed toward the full House of Representatives, according to Deseret News.
However, some committee members raised concerns about what they called an unfunded mandate. One representative said he would like for school districts to be able to apply for state funding for seat belts, Deseret News reports. Hall said that a resolution from Rep. Steve Handy that requests use of $20 million of the state’s share from the legal settlement with Volkswagen could help with seat belt costs, according to the newspaper.
Additionally, Washington state’s Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 5054, which would also require that school buses purchased after the bill goes into effect be equipped with seat belts for all passengers, The Associated Press reports. However, Brian Lang, a former school bus driver, opposed the bill at the hearing, saying that the responsibility to make sure all the passengers use the belts is on the driver, according to the news source. Rep. Michael Baumgartner said that the responsibility should be removed from the drivers.
More than a dozen other states are considering similar measures, according to The Associated Press.
The legislative proposals follow the school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in November in which six students were killed.
|FAQ’s - Frequently Asked Questions – OSBA Criminal Background Check Service
During the first month of operation, OSBA’s on-line criminal background check service for Class B and E licences has successfully provided over 150 school bus drivers licence applicants with an MTO required criminal background check. These early results are excellent and have demonstrated that the service is a quick, efficient and effective alternative to obtaining an in-person check at a local police station. As with any new product and process change, some people have encountered challenges in completing the checks. Here are the top 5 FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) about using the OSBA service.
1. Can I use the service to complete criminal background checks for (on behalf of) my applicants?
No. The criminal background check must be completed by each individual applicant. The service is not designed to allow a third party (e.g. school bus operator employer, supervisor, consortia, etc.) to go on-line and enter the applicant’s data into the background check service. This is to ensure compliance with privacy laws and Bill 113, which will be coming into force in 2017. Bill 113 will require criminal background check results first be sent to the individual requesting the check, prior to being sent to any third parties. The choice to share the results with a third party will be at the discretion of the applicant. The criminal background check service will also conduct an identity verification of the applicant. The verification is typically completed on-line as part of the process and will include questions about the applicant’s credit history.
2. My applicant does not have an email address, can they still use the OSBA service?
Yes. However, the applicant will need to create an email address using a free on-line service such as gmail, hotmail or outlook. The OSBA service requires an applicant email address and will also ask the applicant to validate their email address to create their account. This ensures at private communication channel between the applicant and the criminal background check service.
3. My applicant received an email saying their criminal background check results have been returned. Is there anything else that needs to be done?
Yes. Sharing of criminal background checks with the MTO is not done automatically. The applicant must log back into their account, view their results and if appropriate, share their results with the MTO. It is also important to remember that not all results are eligible for sharing with the MTO. More information on the results and sharing with the MTO can be found on the OSBA website at the following link: http://www.osba.on.ca/osba-on-line-criminal-background-check-service-sharing-of-results
4. How long will it take for the MTO to process the electronic criminal background check results after they have been shared through the OSBA service? How do I know if MTO has processed an applicant’s criminal background check results?
The MTO has committed to processing clear results on the same day they are received through the OSBA criminal background check system. Results which are “Not Clear – Confirmed” will take longer to process as a review of the criminal conviction history will need to be conducted. An applicant can find out if the MTO has processed their criminal background check results by calling ServiceOntario at 416-235-2999 or 1-800-387-3445.
5. As an employer, can I pay for my applicant’s criminal background check when using the OSBA service?
Yes. There are two options to pay for an applicant’s criminal background check. The first is to use a company credit card when payment is requested during the application process. The credit card used to pay for the background check does not need to belong to the applicant. The second is to create a company account within the OSBA service. This will allow for monthly invoicing to company employers for all applicants who apply through the company account.
To further assist with the completion of criminal background checks using the OSBA service, the January 25, 2017 webinar included a walkthrough of the application process. This webinar can be accessed at anytime in the member’s area of the OSBA website (www.osba.on.ca). After logging in with your member credentials, select the “Webinar” option under the Members Area dropdown menu. The webinar will be titled “January 25, 2017 – Webinar #15”.
For information on the OSBA On-Line Criminal Background Check Service, please go to: http://www.osba.on.ca/electronic-criminal-background-check-service
For further details please contact Alex Bugeya – firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-695-9965 Ext. 4
|Blue Bird Awarded $4.4M to Develop Electric School Bus
Article Source: School Transportartion News (Fort Valley, GA)
Article Date: January 27, 2017
Bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp. was awarded $4.4 million by the US federal government to develop a zero-emissions, electric-powered school bus that could fund school districts through ‘Vehicle-to-Grid’ technology.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced last year that they would give $15 million to organizations to accelerate the adoption of advanced and alternative fuel vehicles. Blue Bird received the largest chunk of the money.
"As the leader in alternative fuel bus solutions, the addition of an electric school bus rounds out our portfolio," said Blue Bird President and CEO Phil Horlock. "Thanks to this award…we will be able to pursue the development of this technology based on our many years of research."
Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the Georgia-based Blue Bird hopes to implement V2G technology that will allow the bus to put electricity back into the grid, which could bring much-needed funds to school districts.
For Blue Bird, the electric-powered school bus is not unfamiliar territory.
"We were first to market with an electric school bus in 1994," said Dennis Whitaker, vice president of product development at Blue Bird. "Since then, we have been closely monitoring this technology, and have found that recent battery management advances have made this project viable."
Whitaker said that the new Blue Bird electric school bus should roll out in 2019.
According to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, the initiative will help in "the development of a low-cost electric school bus is an investment that could save state resources in the long term."
The award stipulates that the electric bus has to be an affordable solution for school districts.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson shared in Deal's excitement, applauding the decision by the DOE to reward companies that continue to make "positive impacts."
"Blue Bird has a solid reputation and the company has been an asset to Georgia's economy," he said.
U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop, who represents Georgia’s middle and southwest regions, praised Blue Bird’s contributions to "produced a multitude of ‘green’ vehicles in recent years."
"I am excited to see they are now able to produce even more solutions that positively impact the environment and future generations of bus riders," he said.
TransPower President and CEO Michael Simon added that this electric bus solution could also create additional jobs throughout the country.
"Once these electric buses go into production, there is a huge potential for job growth," he said. "Supplying electric drive components for say, 500 buses a year, would have the potential to create up to 250 new jobs in California."
National Strategies Managing Director Kevin Matthews, whose firm developed the application, said this project "will take us far down the road to deploying and operating a zero emission school bus that is cost effective for school districts across the United States."
|It's All Fun and Games on One Cape Breton School Bus
Article Source: CBC News (Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia)
Article Date: January 25, 2017
The wheels on Janine Lock's bus go round a bit more smoothly thanks to a program she developed to keep the younger kids entertained.
The Grade 12 student came up with a guide for playing games and activities on her bus and now she's pitching it to the local school board.
Lock created the program for the hour-plus bus ride from her West Bay home to the Strait Area Education and Recreation Centre in Port Hawkesbury. It all started about seven years ago when she noticed the kids on her bus were getting restless.
"It tends to be that when kids get bored they want to move around more, so there were some kids who were jumping seats for example, there was a bit of bullying that was happening," she said. "Sometimes when kids get bored they tend to pick on others.
"Lock recently presented her idea to the Strait Regional School Board, with hopes of continuing the program on all buses in the district after she graduates.
She said the games have had a "huge impact" on the kids on her bus and eliminated most of the major bullying problems.
Lock adapted about 25 games to keep kids busy, including I spy drawing, singing and hiding games. Lock also arranged special games for Halloween and Christmas.
"For Halloween week there's kids begging their parents not to drive them to school so that they can get on the bus and play," said Lock.
Lock sees younger students looking after each other and learning social skills, and she thinks older students can benefit by developing leadership skills.
She's suggesting the school board give a personal development credit for students who contribute 110 hours.
Lock said the superintendent is setting up a meeting with principals so she can pitch her idea. In the meantime, she said some board representatives have already passed her guide on to students who could offer the program.
|ASBC ‘Love the Bus’ Going Local in February
Article Source: School Transportartion News (US)
Article Date: January 27, 2017
The American School Bus Council has encouraged states and local districts nationwide to hold their own “Love the Bus” events next month, as there will not be a singular national event featuring federal officials like in years past.
The ASBC and its three national association members—NAPT, NASDPTS and NSTA—issued the statement and reminded the industry of downloadable resources, such as thank-you cards, T-shirt templates and educator toolkits, to assist in developing local campaigns. The council also encouraged the use of #LovetheBus on social media to document and share information on celebrations.
The national 'Love the Bus' event has been held each year since 2007 on or around Valentine’s Day to recognize the roles of school bus drivers, as well as the educational, environmental and safety benefits of yellow bus travel. Events have featured the likes of former Transportation Secretaries Anthony Foxx and Ray LaHood, former NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind and other congressional and federal agency representatives. However, for the past two months, ASBC has been without a full-time coordinator to plan the event.
February has become known as 'Love the Bus' month, with local school district and community events to celebrate school bus drivers and the yellow bus. These have included meals served to school bus drivers and student thank-you cards and posters to honour drivers, along with local media and public outreach campaigns.
The ASBC includes school bus manufacturers Blue Bird, IC Bus and Thomas Built Buses as members.
For more information or to download a kit, click here.
|NY Program Addresses LGBTQ Bullying on School Bus
Article Source: School Transportartion News (US)
Article Date: January 20, 2017
More than 250 school bus drivers at the Shenendehowa Central School District in upstate New York recently attended a new course that focuses on transporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students and fighting bullying.
As previously reported, the educational program, "Transporting LGBTQ Students," is meant to offer a first-line of defense against bullying on school buses.
Lasting 90 minutes, it offers a combination of verbal presentation, PowerPoint slides and video clips of current and former students. Fees range from $1,500 to $3,000, based on the number of drivers in the district.
It was created by the Cyr Foundation, a subsidiary of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT), and underwritten by the Utica National Insurance Group.
Already a half-dozen districts have signed up at this writing, with more inquiring. Shenendehowa was the first district to use the course.
Alfred Karam, Shenendehowa’s director of transportation, said the program aligned with the district’s "No Place for Hate" campaign, which promotes acceptance and respect in all of the district’s schools.
While a lot of attention has been placed on educating students, teachers and staff, Karam said little had been done before now to include bus drivers in the conversation.
“But they are important,” he added. “It’s all about getting tools to bus drivers.”
"It was definitely worthwhile," said Jeffrey Decatur, a 73-year-old bus driver and retired police officer who has driven school buses full- or part-time for most of his adult life.
"They’re kids, they don’t know what they’re doing,” he added. "If we can make a difference to their lives and show them the right way, that’s something I do every day. If you go about it right, you can change their attitude."
But most drivers seemed intrigued and enthusiastic. The district paid the drivers to attend, and video-recorded it for other drivers who could not make it.
"I found it pretty informative," said Craig Criscone, 54, a retired UPS driver who took up school buses four years ago. "It maybe opened my eyes a little bit, so if I get into a bullying situation, I can handle it. I wouldn’t tolerate it on my bus—they’re just as equal as any other students."
During the presentation in Shenendehowa, instructor Betty Hughes explored the potentially problematic behaviors that bus drivers might not even know they are engaging in. For instance, if drivers give a "high-five" to every student coming on board, but fail to give it to an LGBTQ student, that could be considered harassment. Same as if one student is treated differently than others in terms of seating assignments.
Hughes advised drivers to "think with your heart."
Lisa Williams, a 47-year-old driver and former teacher, said there was one thing about the program she objected to: The use of words like "fag," even in explanations. "We’re all adults, we all know what language is offensive and what isn’t," she said.
She was more appreciative of the videos, which depicted former LGBTQ students who spoke about their experiences being bullied. She suggested the presentation include more videos and more real-life experiences.
|Paris Tests Free Electric Shuttles to Fight Pollution
Article Source: Mail Online (Paris, France)
Article Date: January 23, 2017
In a city hit by chronic pollution and traffic problems, Paris officials are experimenting with an electric powered self-driving shuttle linking two train stations.
Two of the EZ10 minibuses, which can carry up to six seated passengers and six standing, were put into service today.
The buses will be tested until early April, between the Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris.
'The autonomous vehicle presents an opportunity for new services notably in less densely populated areas,' RATP president Elisabeth Borne said in a statement.
The GPS-guided vehicles will be free and will be running seven days a week.
Like a metro, the shuttle buses run back and forth in a single traffic lane at 15 miles (25km) per hour.
Instead of a tram, the bus requires no infrastructure - instead it follows a virtual route that can be changed at any time.
Jean-Louis Missika, a Paris deputy mayor in charge of innovation, said self-driving vehicles 'will change the urban landscape in a spectacular fashion' within the next 20 years.
Conceived by the French company Easymile, the EZ10 has already been tested in several countries, including the United States, Japan, Singapore and Finland.
It is also due to be tested between two main green spaces in southern Paris.
The east-central French town of Lyon carried out its own test on a driverless minibus last year.
Operator Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RAPT) hopes to have regular routes for the high-tech vehicles up and running within two years.
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