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Green Light to School Electric Buses

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Imagine that problems with school buses services are fixed, the state’s income can be increased and global ecology problems can be solved. And these are not long-term prospects. This is today’s reality.
Every year the Department of Education pays 1 billion dollars to private bus companies that do not have any desire to improve the quality and safety of their service. Over 1000 operating buses need constant maintenance. They do not have air-conditioning and they produce gas emissions that harm the environment and contribute to global warming.

The city’s Transport Workers Union Local 100 is a union that introduced an experimental program that will demonstrate how New York can become an environmentally friendly city with the best school buses service. The program includes creation of workers’ cooperative that will provide work places with high wages, affordable healthcare and good retirement plan.

The union will be run by a board that is elected by the employees. It will have some leadership positions and some seats on the board will be reserved for school parents.
According to the plan, the creation of the cooperative that belongs to the employees will supply environmentally friendly buses for 15 already existing school bus routes.

Of course, this program will need to be improved and it does need finances to operate. But it seems like this is the only opportunity to solve the problem of yellow school buses that have been around for years. This solution will improve the lives of millions of children and service workers.

School buses

Without speed cameras, city moves to impose safety measures in school zones

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As the calendar ticks down the September 5 start of the school session across New York, transit advocates and the head of the City Council’s transportation committee suggested New York City close streets around school buildings if the state doesn’t act in some way to turn on the city’s 140 speed cameras in school zones that were turned off on July 25th.

With the school year starting, city officials have kept the pressure on the Republican-held state Senate to return to Albany and pass a bill that would expand the number of speed cameras in school zones to 290. The mayor recently announced that cameras, which are still collecting speeding data (if not catching offenders), tracked 132,000 drivers moving 11 miles per hour above the speed limit in the previously covered school zones. That figure was backed up by the NYPD’s Chief of Transportation, Thomas Chan, who told the City Council yesterday that there was a 33 percent increase in speeding summonses given out between July 25 and July 27 in areas covered by cameras.

But in the absence of state action, Wednesday’s Transportation Committee hearing also served as a place for the city to act on its own to protect students. Before the hearing, Transportation Alternatives’ Paul Steely White told Curbed he wanted the city to explore the drastic step of shutting streets near schools to traffic. “[Closing streets] would cause many drivers to scream bloody murder, but that’s the kind of pressure required to be placed on the state Senators to get them to act. If the city can’t have the authority to control its own streets, the city should shut them down,” Steely White said.

During the hearing itself, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who heads up the committee, asked DOT if the idea was on the table for this fall. Rebecca Forgione, the agency’s Chief Operations Office, responded that “in terms of personnel in order to carry that out, it would be a challenge,” since there are 3,000 schools in the city, and that the idea could raise new safety concerns.

“We won’t give up until the last second on restoring the speed cameras around schools,” Rodriguez told Curbed. The council member said he’d prefer some kind of action is taken in Albany before school is in session, whether that’s the state Senate reconvening to pass the bill or Governor Andrew Cuomo signing an executive order turning the cameras back on. In the absence of that action, though, he said he refuses to see the city caught flat-footed when the school year starts.

“I feel we need to have a backup plan,” Rodriguez explained. “Part of that could be an increase of crossing guards around schools, but also [we should] look at schools where logistically we can ban cars around them.”

Yesterday’s committee hearing was focused on a number of bills to improve street safety, including Brad Lander’s bills that made up the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, a package of laws that would allow the city to keep track of dangerous drivers and take drivers off the road if they’re routinely caught by speed cameras. Forgione told the Council that while the DOT supports the idea of removing reckless drivers from the road, the bill “raises legal issues that require further review,” since the state ultimately controls issues like suspending licenses.

Those bills depend in large part on whether the state Senate actually lets the city turn the cameras back on. “It’s hard to proceed, because you need to pass a bill that uses the red light cameras’ authorization,” Lander told Curbed after the hearing. While he said there are ways to move the bill forward if the Senate never turns the cameras back on, the next steps for the legislation are still to lobby and push the Senate to reauthorize the cameras since it would make for a stronger program.

Source: https://ny.curbed.com/2018/8/16/17705148/nyc-speed-cameras-school-zones-city-council

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Dozens of city schools with summer classes set to lose speed cameras

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Many city schools are set to kick off summer school classes Thursday — but students at dozens of them will soon be walking to class without speed cameras to catch reckless drivers.

There are 82 schools that hold summer sessions and have speed cameras to ticket motorists for speeding in a school zone — which the city will be required to switch off on July 25 unless legislation is passed in Albany to keep them on, officials said.

“The data is clear, speed cameras save lives. With our kids beginning summer school this week, the state Senate cannot in good conscience continue their vacation,” said Mayor de Blasio’s spokesman Raul Contreras.
“They need to get back to work and renew and expand speed cameras near schools. Our children’s lives depend on it.”

The city had hoped to get permission to double the number of speed cameras, which are placed near schools and automatically issue $50 tickets.

Instead, the state Assembly passed legislation to allow the city to keep using the 140 current cameras and add more, but the Senate ended its sessions without voting on it.

Among the schools with summer classes set to lose their cameras are Junior High School 227, Intermediate School 281 and Public School 52 in Brooklyn; Public School 22 on Staten Island; the Razi School in Queens and St. Raymond Elementary School in the Bronx.

Injuries to pedestrians and drivers have declined by an average of 14.8% around schools that have the cameras.

Maureen Landers, 47, a mom of two from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who has pushed for speed cameras, said the combination of less enforcement and less traffic on the streets in summer will put kids at risk.

Her 15-year-old son was hit by a car on the way home from school earlier this year and broke his leg — an injury she said would have been far worse if the driver was speeding.

“I think that summer is a particularly dangerous time,” she said. “There’s virtually no enforcement. The only thing to force people to drive close to the speed limit is congestion and the speed cameras. Now, if you look at the summer, you have less congestion and now we’re looking at a summer without speed cameras.”

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-speed-cameras-summer-school-20180704-story.html

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Student, Driver Escape Burning School Bus in New Jersey

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A school bus caught fire and became engulfed in flames while on a route to school in New Jersey Tuesday morning, police say.

The bus, which was headed to Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Mahwah, had just picked up its first student, 11-year-old Rocco Arcese, when Arcese alerted the driver to the smell of smoke.

“I was like, ‘We should get off,” Arcese told News 4.

Flames quickly spread and engulfed the entire bus within minutes, ravaging the entire front of the bus and burning the seats inside.

“I saw burning rubber falling from the bottom, and flames,” Arcese said.

The driver and the boy quickly got off the bus, and responding firefighters knocked out the blaze. No injuries were reported.

As soon as they were safe, Arcese called his mother, who at first didn’t believe him. Then her son’s cool demeanor helped calm her nerves, she said.

“He’s such a calm kid, and I knew he was OK,” Stacy-Perone Arcese, Rocco’s mother, said. “And I was OK ’cause I knew he’d be OK.”

Arcese said it’s not the first time he smelled smoke on a bus. His mother hopes it’s the last.

“I think they all maybe need to be revamped in some way, shape or form,” she said.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a mechanical problem, according to the fire chief.

It wasn’t the only scare involving a school bus across the Tri-State on Tuesday morning. Five elementary age children were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after their mini school bus careened into a house on Long Island. The school bus driver was also hospitalized. The cause of the crash in Amityville was under investigation.

from official BBC website

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