A bill that would require home-side school bus stops in Texas would significantly raise operating costs, which could force school districts to reduce bus service, according to the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation (TAPT).
As previously reported, HB 243 would mandate that school buses pick up and drop off students on the side of the road that they live on.
In a position paper on the bill, TAPT estimates that complying with the proposed requirement would increase operating costs by about 30%. That, in turn, could negatively impact the safety of students.
“It is the position of TAPT that HB 243 could inadvertently place more students at risk than it is designed to protect,” the association says in the position paper. “Limited by existing resources, districts may be forced to reduce or eliminate regular education transportation services as was witnessed during the 2009 legislative funding reductions.”
TAPT also notes that the home-side bus stop requirement would significantly increase the length of school bus routes, which would mean longer rides for students.
As alternatives to the bill, TAPT recommends such measures as more training for those involved in school bus routing, increased penalties for illegally passing school buses, and further education for the public on school bus safety.
State Rep. Oscar Longoria, who pre-filed HB 243, cited an incident last year in which a La Joya (Texas) Independent School District student was struck and killed by a passing vehicle while crossing the road after being dropped off by a school bus.
In its position paper, TAPT adds, “It is tragic that an incident has occurred resulting in the untimely death of a student. The TAPT urges our legislature to promote and increase safety for our students through [the association’s] recommendations instead of mandating how a district should design a school bus route.”
To read the full TAPT position paper, click here.