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Arizona Lawmakers introduce bill to expand school transportation

S.B. 1630 at giving schools more options for transportation
TUSD School bus
Posted at 10:43 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 11:57:00-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Several schools in Southern Arizona are grappling with how to get more bus drivers behind the wheel and keep their buses running.

Now a few Arizona lawmakers are hoping to help with that problem by introducing a new transportation bill.

Arizona Senate Bill 1630would make it so schools could use other transit options such as passenger vehicles that fit 11 to 15 people.

The bill sponsored by Arizona State Senator Sine Kerr (R) aims at tackling the many problems schools face when dealing with routes.

"So for example, in our rural and remote areas, it may not make sense to send a full 80 Passenger yellow school bus in mountainous terrain, maybe on tribal lands or roads, or where you are really hard to reach and there's only a small group of students," shared Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs Matthew Simon.

One concern brought up in a committee meeting was how schools would get these vehicles insured.

"This doesn't prohibit the districts in any way from reaching an agreement on their own insurance needs and what is required by by their underwriters and that they can sure work out those insurance issues individually," Sen. Kerr said.

In addition to helping transport students in rural areas, the bill aims at giving more people the opportunity to drive for Arizona schools without having to get a commercial license.

"Also, traditional school bus drivers are required to have commercial driver's license, which I think we found out during the pandemic," Simon said. "Those are really tiny jobs. And once a person is able to get a commercial driver's license, it's very hard to compete in the marketplace with some of the other great operators or shipping companies who pay great versus doing that poor traditional school bus driver."

The bill is expected to be up for a vote by the House in the next few weeks.

Denelle Veselik is an anchor and investigative reporter for KGUN 9. It's been her dream to tell your stories for the past decade. She is extremely curious and wants to continue to use her storytelling for the greater good. Share your story ideas and important issues with Denelle by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, and Twitter.