National School Transportation Association (NSTA) members returned to Washington, D.C., this month to engage with elected officials and policymakers for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the annual visits.
This year’s Capitol Hill Bus-in took place from April 5 to April 8 and gave participants the opportunity to hear from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration representatives. A press release, NSTA noted that EPA officials outlined the Clean School Bus Program, which is a $5 billion grant designed to upgrade school buses to zero or low emission vehicles that is scheduled to begin this month. The program is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that President Joe Biden signed into law on Nov. 15.
Also included in the IIJA were provisions of the STOP for School Buses Act, which was filed in response to the tragic and fatal school bus crash that occurred in Rochester, Indiana on Oct. 30, 2018. Three siblings were killed and another child was injured by an illegally passing motorist while attempting to board their school bus.
Related: Federal School Bus STOP Act Included in House, Senate Transportation Reauthorization Bills
Related: NSTA Annual Capitol Hill Bus-In Advocates for the ‘STOP Act’
Related: Indiana Woman Convicted of Killing 3 Siblings Released from Prison
Related: Colorado Senate Approves $5.5M to Improve School Bus Safety
Related: Private School Bus Operators Eye $2B in Additional Small Business Relief
NSTA recognized the prime sponsors of the STOP Act, Sens. Gary Peters and Todd Young, and Reps. Julia Brownley and Jackie Walorski, by awarding them with the Bronze Bus Legislative Champion Award.
“NSTA’s return to Washington was a success, as evidenced by record attendance and an increase in association membership in recent weeks and months. We are grateful for the participation of our members and the support of our federal Agency partners, who provided us with key information on programs under their purview that directly impact student transportation,” stated NSTA President Carina Noble.
Attendees also heard from panelists at a session, “Working with your State Legislatures – Coordination between State and National Associations.” Cherie Hime, executive director of the Wisconsin School Bus Association, spoke alongside NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn, NSTA counsel Rich Kelly, Esq., on the importance of collaboration between national and state partners, and how coordination can lead to successful legislative and regulatory outcomes.
“This three-day event provided an opportunity for private school bus operators to hear directly from policy-makers, as pupil transportation continues to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Macysyn added.
He said he is looking forward to having more industry engagement at the association’s Annual Meeting and Convention July 24-27 in Niagara Falls, New York.