With the summer solstice, most schools that follow traditional calendars have closed up shop until August or September, but plenty of happenings continue behind the scenes, especially as budget fights continue.
This time of year always marks renewed training for student transporters as dozens of state associations hold their annual conferences. School districts and private school bus operators a like obtain necessary training information to assist in pre-services for school bus drivers, dispatchers, routers, etc., that go a long way in planning the upcoming school year. Many discussions will likely center on the new bullying prevention training for school bus drivers that was unveiled earlier this month by NAPT and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
The training is now available for download on the NAPT Web site. The first module is titled, "See Something. Do Something: Intervening in Bullying Behavior" to teach drivers what bullying is and how to respond to and report the behavior as it occurs. The second module, "Creating a Supportive Bus Climate: Preventing Bullying" focuses on fostering an environment of mutual respect on the school bus.
NSTA reported that last week a federal appeals court upheld a charter exception for Washington State that was introduced last year in the federal transportation spending bill by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray to allow the Seattle's King County Metro transit agency to provide charter service to and from local sporting events.
Last summer, a lower court sought to protect private charter service provided by local bus companies, but the June 14 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, stating that the provision was constitutional and "efforts to provide efficient and affordable transportation to sporting events aligned with legitimate government goals."
NSTA said previously that precedent could be set nationwide allowing transit agencies to illegally compete with private transportation providers if the so-called "Murray Amendment" is allowed to stand as is.
STN global blogger Anson Stewart's latest blog from Buenos Aires shows some of the different transit options available to residents in the Argentina capital, incuding el autobus escolar.
The National Biodiesel Board expressed its support of a newly-released proposal by the EPA to increase the biomass-based diesel fuel program in 2012-2013 to 1 billion gallons next year and by almost 1.3 billion gallons in 2013. Currently, 800 million gallons are required. NBB said biodiesel makes up nearly all U.S. biomass-diesel production and, because it qualifies as an advanced biofuel, biodiesel is also eligible to exceed the biomass-based diesel targets and can help meet general advanced biofuels requirements.
NBB also said biodiesel production this year has supported 31,000 U.S. jobs as the industry replaces nearly 1 billoin gallons of imported oil.
Motorcoach safety has been back in the news following the Memorial Day crash on I-95 in Virginia that killed four passengers. That incident served as an impetus for the re-filing of the Enhanced Motorcoach Safety Act by Sens. Sherrod Brown (R-OH) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), which has made the congressional rounds for several years now following the 2007 crash of a motorcoach in Atlanta that was carrying members of the Bluffton (Ohio) University baseball team that killed the driver, the driver’s wife, and five passengers. Seven other passengers received serious injuries, and 21 passengers received minor injuries. In April, Rep. Bill Schuster (R-PA) introduced a similar bill, The Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety Act of 2011.
Last week, the United Motorcoach Association and the American Bus Association testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as legislators study current federal bus safety programs. NSTA reported that Both Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN), chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, agreed that Congress must be careful not to let the actions of a handful of operators jeopardize the vast majority of companies that properly adhere to safety regulations. Victor Parra, UMA's executive director, testified that many bus companies are small family owned businesses and burdensome regulation and fees are not the answer.