Senate Passes Historic Pilot Program To Cement LSTA As A Permanent Regional Entity

In the wake of the historic voter turnout and Avi Schnall’s victory in November, a pivotal legislative proposal championed by Agudas Yisroel of America and Lakewood Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein – the biggest breakthrough to date regarding the ongoing school transportation saga – was approved today by the Senate.

The legislation successfully passed the Assembly in June, but stalled in the Senate. Following some key changes, the legislation was approved as a three-year pilot during the waning hours of the legislative session that concluded Monday night.

The bill, sponsored by Senators Vin Gopal and Bob Singer, aims to authorize transportation consortiums to operate in New Jersey. The previous pilot program, which established the Lakewood Student Transportation Authority (LSTA), expired several years ago. Consequently, the Lakewood Board of Education has had to annually request a waiver from the state. Without legislative support, the LSTA would have been unable to sustain transportation services for non-mandated children in Lakewood, jeopardizing their access to transportation.

This bill goes a step further. Currently, each town’s Board of Education is responsible for transporting its private school children. For instance, children from Toms River or Jackson cannot share a bus with those from Lakewood, leading to separate buses for each municipality. This new pilot program seeks to empower municipalities to enter into agreements with the consortium to provide transportation, allowing buses to start in Jackson near the Lakewood border and transport children from both locations on the same route – potentially having a positive impact on thousands of children.

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