Seat belts for school buses not likely this year

Lawmakers decided not to approve a bill that would have required seat belts on every school bus by 2024 and instead voted to study the costs.

Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said a study needs to be completed first because there are too many discrepancies for what the requirement would cost.

“It’s clear we need some better information,” he said.

The legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the requirement would cost local municipalities up to $106.6 million and the state up to $1.7 million.

Transportation Committee Co-chairman Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, said he has been told by numerous bus manufacturers that having seat belts on new buses costs an additional $8,000.

Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Stratfield, said she doesn’t see the need for yet another study.

“There is already a wealth of information out there and I don’t think we need to commit the state to spending more money on a study when the studies are already there,” she said.

If passed, funding for a study would only be done if the funds were available, but no revenue is dedicated. Seat belts on school buses got a fresh impetus following the death of a student from Rocky Hill in bus crash earlier this year. The transportation committee heard testimony earlier this year that the student’s death could have been prevented had the student been wearing a seat belt.