STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The city is still working to install required GPS devices on every school bus by the first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 5, according to a recent report.
In January, the New York City Council voted unanimously to approve a package of bills -- the Student Transportation Oversight Package (STOP) -- aimed to increase transparency around the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Pupil Transportation, increase oversight over bus activity and increase efficiency in school bus services.
In that package, legislation was passed that would require GPS devices on all 9,500 yellow school buses that serve 150,000 students by the time the 2019-2020 academic year begins. Along with the GPS tracking device, the bill also allows parents and guardians to have access to the real-time location of their child’s school bus when it’s in use.
But the DOE is running late on installing the GPS systems, according to a report published by THE CITY. The sponsor of the legislation, Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), said the DOE hasn’t awarded a contract yet to provide the GPS devices on school buses, according to the report.
Kallos told THE CITY that installing GPS devices and showing the tracking information on a mobile app is the “most basic technology,” and that the DOE is cutting it close, as school begins in less than a month.
According to THE CITY report, the DOE said it is finalizing a contract with one of the nine vendors that submitted bids in March. The agency didn’t have a timeline for completing the project, and said its priority is installing the right GPS system on all school buses as quickly as possible, THE CITY reported.
The package of bills comes after reports of bus mishaps at the start of the school year that left students stranded after their school buses were late or failed to show up.
In response to the mishaps, the DOE overhauled the vetting and background check procedures for all school bus drivers, hired Kevin Moran as the senior adviser to the chancellor for transportation, and hired Ernst & Young to conduct an audit of school bus contracts.