Last week, Louisiana governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 695, which gives schools more flexibility when planning and implementing school bus routes while also amending HB 600/654 from the 2014 legislative session.
The first bill, HB 600, introduced by Rep. Neil Abramson, prohibited school bus drivers from unloading students in a lane of traffic and specifically required that they be unloaded on a shoulder, in a school parking lot or other places away from the road as determined by the school. These requirements would not apply if the shoulder of a municipal road was the only option. The bill also stated that bus stops could not require a student to cross lanes of traffic to catch the bus.
While the bill became a law, many student transporters throughout the state expressed their discontent with it, many opponents citing the multiple logistical challenges that would come about from having to redraw their existing routes at the last minute.
HB 695, also introduced by Abramson, allows local governments to load and unload students in a lane of traffic if the driver determines that a specific shoulder is unsafe. The new law also amends the existing law to prohibit the loading and unloading of students only on a divided highway where vehicles traveling in the opposite direction are not required by law to stop, among other changes.