Deutsch Bill Would GPS Track Students On School Buses


City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest, Midwood) introduced a bill to improve school bus safety last week as part of an education hearing to consider several bills for improving school transportation.

The bill Deutsch sponsored along with Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and Education Committee Chairman Mark Treyger (D-D-Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, Sea Gate), would require school buses to be equipped with GPS tracking devices and two-way radios or cellular phones so that parents and authorities can know the whereabouts of students in transit to and from schools.

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch
City Councilman Mark Treyger

“As a parent. I know how terrible it feels to lose sight of a child even for a moment, so I can imagine the terror experienced by a parent who is unable to account for the location of the school bus transporting his or her child,” said Deutsch.

Deutsch worked on a similar bill as a staffer for his predecessor, former City Councilman Michael Nelson and noted in the years since this issue rose to the public consciousness, technology has been developed that allows for outfitting buses with GPS trackers and mobile phones. Yet parents are facing the same fear and confusion about their child’s location as they were years ago, Deutsch said.

Deutsch noted that just last month there were more than 27,000 school bus-related delays and over 82,000 calls made by parents concerned about their children. “It’s beyond comprehension that by the Department of Education’s own numbers, only two-thirds of the buses serving city schools are currently outfitted with tracking devices,” he said.

Just last month, New Yorkers were horrified at the news that a five year-old girl, Lystra Liu, sat on a school bus for more than four hours as a bus driver from Grandpa’s Bus Co., drove several routes throughout Queens before eventually dropping the kindergartener off in the dark, blocks away from home. However, it was only due to her mother’s prescient thinking who installed a tracker onto her daughter’s phone, that Liu was safely returned home.

Deutsch is urging the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Pupil Transportation to take on the issue and make sure no other parent is left worrying about the whereabouts of their child.

“If the City and its residents can track snow plows to check whether a specific street was cleared, we certainly should be able to track our children’s buses,” Deutsch declared.

Treyger echoed these sentiments, demanding immediate safety improvements.

“No parent or guardian should have to worry about the whereabouts of their children during bus rides to and from school. I am proud to join Council Members Kallos and Deutsch in sponsoring this sensible legislation that will give parents and families the peace of mind they deserve,” said Treyger.

According to the DOE, only two-thirds of the buses serving city schools are currently outfitted with tracking devices.