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Letter: New bill huge risk

Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 9:48 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

The Illinois General Assembly is considering legislation that will put thousands of school children at risk, increase traffic congestion and harm the environment. House Bill 5967 would radically alter the formula that guarantees yellow bus service for all students living at least 1 ½ miles from school. Under HB 5967, the minimum distance would increase to 2 miles, adding 172 square blocks, or 43 percent, to each school’s exclusion zone.  This “small” change would virtually end bus service at many schools and force tens of thousands of students to find a different way to school.

These alternatives are not good for our economy, our environment, nor most importantly, the safety of our children.

Buses are the safest mode of school transportation. In 2012, more than 600 children were killed nationally traveling to and from school. Only 10 fatalities occurred in a school bus. Reducing school bus service increases the chances of more student deaths. Each bus takes an average of 34 vehicles off of the road, cutting traffic and the pollution that comes with it, as well as helping to curb student absenteeism and truancy.

Many school districts are actually looking at reducing the 1 ½ mile minimum due to parent concerns about safety issues and the effect of added traffic congestion on the environment.

The General Assembly may vote on HB 5967 before April 11, so please ask your state legislator to vote “no” and preserve the yellow bus for more students.

Patrick Johnson

President, Illinois School Transportation Association

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