Written by Janna Smeltzer   
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 08:26

A June 2006 report by the National Transportation Safety Board released a national status report on implementing pupil transportation safety recommendations as part of its "Most Wanted List" of recommended transportation safety improvements. It found a majority of states have failed to take any action on following up on  SAFETEA-LU, federal law passed in 2005 that prohibits nonconforming vans in school bus transportation and closes a loophole that previously only penalized dealerships from selling the vehicles to school districts.

The NTSB reported that 25 states from Connecticut to Hawaii have taken limited or no action, including the District of Columbia. Another 15 states have implemented limited or partial restrictions on so-called 15-passenger vans, and only 10 states prohibit the vehicles from transporting children to all schools and day care centers. Click here to view a PDF map of the United States showing the Use of Nonconforming Buses for School Children.

In February 2004 the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services released the results of a survey of State Director members that found 29 states have laws or regulations that prohibit the use of vans for transporting public school students to-and-from school and school-related activities.

Meanwhile, a 1997 National School Transportation Association (NTSA) national survey found that 22 states at the time still allowed the use of 11-15 passenger vans in pupil transportation, albeit regular transportation or certain special activity trips. Only six state prohibited the use of smaller eight to 10 passenger vans for student transportation. Some states have since enacted laws that prohibit the vehicle altogether, though they are not required to do so. Regardless, all public school districts are now prohibited by federal law from purchasing or leasing these non-conforming vans for use in any form student transportation whatsoever.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the reauthorization of the congressional highway bill enacted in August 2005, closed a loophole that previously banned only the manufacture or sale of these non-conforming vehicles "knowingly" for the purpose of pupil transportation to school districts. The new provision bans the illicit purchase of these vehicles by public school districts. Fines range from $10,000 for the first offense up to $15 million. Private and parochial schools, day care facilities and colleges and universities are not affected. Some schools still use the non-conforming vans to transport teachers and staff.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 16:12