In our October/November 1999 issue we introduced a special report called "Great Fleets Across America" to recognize school bus fleets doing an excellent job in several areas, including safety, efficiency, driver training, maintenance, morale and school and community relations. To ensure that we scoured the entire country for exemplary fleets we decided to profile one transportation program in each state. Both public and private operations were represented.
The result was a celebration of successful school transportation in every part of America — rural, urban, suburban, east, west, north and south. It gave readers a front-row seat to view the wonderful things that are going on in pupil transportation. And it gave 50 transportation programs much-deserved recognition on a national scale.
Success right from the start
To say that the inaugural Great Fleets report was successful would be a vast understatement. We received kudos from across the country for shining a spotlight on these fine fleets. Almost without exception, the honored fleets ordered extra copies of the issue to share with their staffs, site administrators, superintendents and school boards.
In fact, the first Great Fleets was so successful that we decided to continue the recognition program the next year. And the next. And the next. And then again this year. That’s five years of greatness.
In the process, we’ve recognized 250 school bus operations in 50 states (and, in 2001, the District of Columbia). These fleets run tens of thousands of buses and employee a like number of people. The smiling faces of approximately 5,000 professionals have appeared in the photos accompanying the profiles.
Back in 1999, we launched this amazing list in alphabetical order, starting with Alabama and Enterprise City Schools. This issue, we end the five-year series with Wyoming's Uinta School District. In between, we’ve featured small operations, such as the three-bus fleet at Etolin Bus Co. in Wrangell, Alaska, and giant fleets such as Clark County School District in Las Vegas, with its more than 1,000 route buses.
In compiling five year’s worth of star performers, we’ve learned that enthusiasm, conscientiousness, passion and attention to detail are key elements of achievement in pupil transportation. The lack of just one of these elements will not cripple an operation but will prevent it from attaining the highest performance level. The same is true for any endeavor in life.
Thanks for the memories
You’re the people who have made the Great Fleets possible. We would never have attempted such a project without knowing that we would receive terrific cooperation from the industry, including school districts, contractors, state associations, national organizations (especially the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services) and our own Editorial Advisory Board. It’s been a great collaboration. I would be remiss if I didn’t also commend my editorial staff for their contributions to the success of this project. They’ve poured untold amounts of sweat and energy into this endeavor.
Now the hard part. As much as we’d love to continue to bring you the Great Fleets, we think it’s time to shine our light into other corners. Although there are still hundreds of fleets that deserve recognition, we need to pursue other objectives in the pages of this magazine. But please be assured that next year’s October issue will be as special as the Great Fleets Across America.