- Associated Press - Saturday, July 5, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - Officials are warning that a new state law could cause a big increase in school bus costs and travel times across Louisiana.

The law, which takes effect in August, prohibits bus drivers from picking up or dropping off students in locations where they would have to cross traffic lanes.

The News-Star (http://tnsne.ws/1kpC0y4) reports that some districts estimate it will cause their buses to drive nearly twice the distance as before the law.

Rep. Rob Shadoin, a Ruston Republican, says the law was meant to address problems in urban areas such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but is having unintended effects on school districts across the state.

“As I understand it, somewhere in the legislative process an amendment that would exempt school districts with populations under 300,000 was dropped,” he said. “Quite frankly, some of our rural districts can’t comply with the law.”

Shadoin said he remembers questioning the bill from the House floor before voting and was assured that it would not affect the smaller school districts.

“I am disturbed that language that I was assured was on the bill somehow didn’t make it to the governor’s desk,” he said.

State Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, said legislators would ask for an attorney general’s opinion that could change the restrictions until the Legislature comes back into session and could reconsider it.

Union Parish transportation supervisor Lyn Kenley says the law could hurt that parish’s efforts to reduce bus travel times and could force school buses to drive nearly 1.5 million miles, twice the distance they traveled in the last school year.

“It would essentially mean that we would have to travel most roads twice,” Kenley said. “It’s not just the additional mileage, but the time involved and the inconvenience to parents.”

Ouachita Parish transportation supervisor Skeeter Boyd said the new law is probably the biggest change in transportation in 30 to 40 years.

“It’s a huge change,” he said. “I feel like the routes are going to be longer because we will be double running. We may have to double run a road that is six or seven miles long because there is no turnaround.”

Boyd said some students would likely have to catch buses earlier than in the past so that buses could arrive at school in time for breakfast. “We’re going to have to get the word out to parents and to drivers,” he said.

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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