National Congress on School Transportation Meets to Update School Bus Specifications

Attendees at the 51st annual NASDPTS conference in Washington D.C. in October 2019.
Attendees at the 51st annual NASDPTS conference in Washington D.C. in October 2019.

The steering committee for the 17th National Congress on School Transportation (NCST) met in Columbus, Ohio during the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit to review proposals for the event scheduled for May 17-20, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Patrick McManamon, NCST steering committee chair and president-elect of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), said the group took the next step toward accepting a proposal from the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation (TAPT) that was first made in September to develop and manage NCST online registration. The website will also record the names and contact information of each state delegate.

Next year’s NCST will discuss, debate and vote on the 2020 edition of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures (NSTSP) manual, which is updated every five years.

The specifications manual is used by states, industry and others as a reference guide when drafting school bus legislation, rules, policies and procedures. It is organized into several sections, with each represented by its own writing committee:

  • Activity Bus Operations Other than Home to School/Head Start
  • Alternative Fuels
  • Emerging Technologies in School Transportation
  • General Operations
  • School Bus Inspection
  • School Bus Specifications
  • School Transportation Security and Emergency Preparedness
  • Students with Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs
  • Terms and Definitions
  • Toddlers and Preschool Children
  • Transportation for Infants

Proposals to the writing committees for the NSTSP manual, which are accepted from the general public and the industry, closed on March 31 of this year. No additional submissions will be accepted at this point.

The writing committees have been researching these proposals as well as other topics and issues they have developed as a group, Executive Director of NASDPTS Charlie Hood said. The proposals are expected to be presented shortly to the steering committee.

One discussion at the recent 51st annual NASDPTS conference in Washington, D.C., discussed the inclusion of guidelines for fire suppression systems in the NSTSP manual.

Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended all school buses — newly manufactured and already on the road — be equipped with the technology, following a fatal fire on an Iowa school bus in December 2017.

McManamon told School Transportation News that he believed the proposal had already been delivered to the school bus specifications writing committee for review and consideration.

He added that the next steps are for each of the state directors of pupil transportation Education to choose seven delegates that will attend the NCST meeting in Iowa. The delegates will make additional comments, which will be considered by the writing committees.

Once the writing committees finalize their drafts, the state delegations will meet at the congress to discuss and vote on the proposed changes.

The first NCST was held in 1939 and organized by Frank Cyr of Teachers College at Columbia University, with a focus on standardizing transportation services for rural students into towns and cities. That first proceeding resulted in the color yellow that all school buses are painted.

The steering committee is comprised of representatives from NASDPTS, NAPT, the National School Transportation Association, and the National Safety Council. Proposals were also discussed last month at the 51st annual NASDPTS conference in Washington, D.C.