Archives for School Transportation News

Getting Students Back to School During COVID-19

Because of social distancing, classrooms and schoolbuses can only be filled to one-fourth of their capacities. This constraint alone requires that a broad range of dramatic changes be made in order for our children to return to physical school without placing out entire population at greater risk than we already are. Using the key points below, state educational and transportation officials can tweak this model into a formal, detailed plan, and hand it to their respective governors. With such plans implemented, students in many or most states should be able to return to Zoom school this September, and attend school,

Consolidation and Caution

As our economy has continued to shrink, my admiration for most pupil transportation Directors has grown immensely. In 1992, when I could no longer obtain the contract terms that allowed me to run a large paratransit operation at a level of efficiency and virtuosity frankly unthinkable of today, I walked away from a lucrative five-year contract renewal to do other things. But nearly 20 years later, few Transportation Directors in any mode, in either the public or private sector, have the choices to simply walk away that I did. Since then, working largely as a safety and efficiency expert, I

The Creep of Common Carrier Status

As it affects liability, an operating agency’s status as a “common carrier” has an enormous impact not only on determining liability itself, but depending on legal constructs in various states, can also affect considerations like immunity and/or the assessment of punitive damages – often barriers to the assessment of damages afforded to public agencies. So except for motorcoaches deployed in commuter/express service under contract to public transit agencies, these latter considerations rarely affect motorcoach operations in the courtroom. Why the status of common carrier is important is that it requires the “highest duty and standard of care.” Without this status,

Knowing Your Passengers

Each school year starts with new or newly-tweaked routes, new students and new drivers. So too does every run assigned to a substitute. Or every after-school run attended by different students on different days. When drivers have too little information, bad things can happen: With no information about the number of students boarding (much less which ones needed to cross), a substitute driver picked up several students, waited for one whom fellow students advised her was on the route, and eventually pulled away – with the door still open and the red lights flashing. A kindergartner and his parent, arriving

Sharing and Caring

For those of you who, unlike myself, spend 100% of your professional life in the school bus community, you may be unaware of the emergence of crossover mirrors and compartmentalized seating in the transit and motorcoach industries, respectively. But emerge they have. Frankly, more primitive versions of both technologies have been around for awhile. But the newest versions of both technologies are far superior, and their increased usage is likely to spread far more rapidly, particularly in our litigious society. Superior Innovation, Spreading Ideas Our community has known for decades of those features of our vehicles that are genuinely superior

Bus Positioning and Alignment

Unlike those of many transit systems, school bus stops are not always identified with signage – at either the precise position of the stop or signage indicating that a school bus stop is approaching (the black glyph on yellow background). Rarely is the stop zone itself marked (for example, by red-lining the curb). In particular, the failure to mark the stop’s precise positioning can be problematic – and occasionally dangerous. Creating a bus stop zone of appropriate length, keeping it clear of unauthorized vehicles, and ensuring that school bus drivers pull their vehicles close to and parallel with the curb

State by State Variation in Crossing Procedures: Part 6 : Conclusions

If nothing else is clear from the exhaustive evidence presented in the six previous installments, it is that the state-to-state variation in crossing procedures represents a mind–boggling labyrinth of confusion to motorists. That this confusion leads to crossing mayhem should be understandable. Frankly, to expect motorists to absorb, much less respond to, the nuances of each state’s crossing policies and procedures is neither fair nor reasonable. In stating this, I am not remotely condoning or excusing pass bys. Yet the author of the study from which I obtained much of this information is far more sympathetic toward such motorists than

Sharing the Stop, Sharing the Blame

The pupil transportation community is, far and away, the most isolated among America’s public transportation sectors – which include motorcoach, transit, paratransit, non-emergency medical, taxi, shuttle and limousine services. In general, this isolation has hurt the pupil transportation community, and is partly responsible for its lack of Federal funding (compared to the $9 billion the transit industry receives despite deploying a fraction as many vehicles). I myself have participated in at least half a dozen coordination-related projects involving pupil transportation services – most of which failed because of our community’s isolation and recalcitrance. However, there are some strongholds of separation