Yesterday’s lost school bus incident in Brownsville, involving a bus driver who took a four-and-a-half hour detour because he was too stubborn to ask directions, reminds City Council Member John Liu that all city school buses were supposed to be equipped with GPS tracking two years ago.
Liu, the Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee, had not heretofore been vocal about the delayed installation of the devices in school buses (he called mandatory GPS in city taxis “unjustified” when it was forced on cab drivers in 2007). But the “terrifying ordeal suffered by mother Madinat Koroma, waiting for hours not knowing if she would see her five year old daughter again,” Liu’s office said, has made the pressing need for GPS obvious.
The Council was on the verge of passing a GPS plan for the buses in 2005, Liu’s office added, but “the Department of Education persuaded Council Members not to legislate the requirement” because they already planned to have them installed at the start of the 2006 school term. But by September of 2007, the DOE had only announced their intent to solicit RFPs from GPS providers.
After the incident, the DOE said they would have a GPS “pilot program” up and running in December. Not much was said about it then, but nothing focuses the minds of politicians faster than a highly public missing-child event.