New Jersey Law Creates Electric School Bus Program
A newly signed law by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy authorizes up to $45 million over the next three years for the addition of electric school buses across the state. The state's Department of Environmental Protection will buy buses and charging infrastructure. The department will give $15 million in grants annually over three years to at least 18 school districts or bus contractors for the electric buses. At least half of those grants will go to communities that are low-income, urban, or overburdened by pollution. New Jersey has about 600 school districts. Murphy said electrifying school bus fleets gets the state closer to its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to The New Jersey Monitor. The Monitor reports that more than 40% of the state's emissions come from transportation. More than 800,000 students ride in one of New Jersey's 15,000 diesel-powered school buses.
Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Aimed at Addressing Bus Driver Shortages
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed legislation meant to relieve school districts of staffing challenges. It allows retired staff to be reemployed as a K-12 teacher, substitute teacher, or bus driver without the loss or suspension of their retirement benefits. Previously, retired members of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System could return to work, but only for 120 days maximum. The legislation removes the limit, allowing retired teachers and bus drivers to return to their service for one year renewable annually, provided there are no other qualified applicants. While reemployed, retirement benefits would be reduced to 70% of the retirement allowance the member is otherwise entitled to receive, according to WZTV. Additionally, the existing salary cap would be removed. The bill is in effect now through June 30, 2025.
Virginia Law Created by Middle School Students Allows School Buses to be Used for Package Transport
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill into law that allows school boards to enter into agreements with third-party logistics companies to use school buses to transport packages beteween distribution centers while not in use for transporting students. The legislation, known as the "box bill," started as a project for a group of middle school students in Richmond, Va. The students created a device called a "Bus Box" to be installed on the undercarriage of buses for package transportation. The project gained national attention when the invention earned multiple awards, according to WTVR.
Massachusetts Bill Would Allow Cameras on Buses to Capture Driver Violations
A newly-introduced bill in Massachusetts would allow school districts the option to install cameras on school buses to capture videos of vehicles that fail to stop for buses with their lights on. School districts could then partner with local law enforcement to issue civil citations to drivers who break school bus stop laws. The technology would come from BusPatrol, according to The Framingham Source. The technology is already legal in more than 20 states. State legislators toured a bus with the technology installed outside the State House last month.