After a summer of hearings and presentations, the Governor’s School Bus Safety Task Force is starting to draft recommendations to make buses safer. One of the items being considered is a lap-shoulder safety belt system requirement for all new buses. Some Task Force members have debated whether their report to the Governor should have estimates of what it will cost school districts to make that change. The group’s chairman, Public Safety Director Mark James, is not sure it will be feasible to put cost estimates on recommendations. Some estimates say the lap-shoulder belts make each new bus cost $10,000 more. And, since capacity might be reduced by a third, more buses will be required to do the same job. At least one Task Force member worries those costs might be passed on to school districts as unfunded mandates.
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