Our editors constantly are told by our readers that publishing articles describing what other school bus operators are doing is helpful to them. We take that to heart, trying to get input from all areas of the country on common safety, management, maintenance, regulatory and funding concerns.
In fact, in this issue we flesh out a recent survey on the most common safety issues that you’re facing. The article, “Confronting the Top 10 Safety Concerns,” looks at the top safety considerations, giving you an idea of whether your concerns match those of your counterparts. This larger perspective can help you determine if your safety program is optimally prioritized.
But, I have to admit that our ability to counsel you on how to improve your operation is limited, even with the numerous sources that we engage for each “best practices” article. That’s why it’s so essential for you to network with your peers and exchange information about your transportation challenges.
Many paths to knowledge
You’d be surprised how much you can learn from other operations, even if they’re not in your state or region of the country. For example, you’d think that a large operation in Florida wouldn’t have much in common with a small operation in Wyoming, but they both might have driver recruitment problems, behavior management concerns or fuel procurement difficulties. The scale might be different, but the problems are the same.
The best advice I can give you on how to network with your peers is to attend the annual conference and trade show sponsored by the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT). This year’s conference is right around the corner, scheduled Nov. 5-9 in Kansas City, Mo.
Judging from this year’s program, the event will provide you with numerous opportunities to talk turkey with other school transportation professionals from around the country. Several dinners, receptions and socials are planned, as are 44 hours of training. That’s plenty of opportunity for learning, networking and socializing.
Return on investment
More than that, attending the NAPT conference provides some return on investment. The fees that you pay to attend the event are used by the association to further develop programs such as the association’s Professional Development Series (this year’s event will feature 11 new courses) and its certification exams. Your money is not directed toward the bottom line and possible profits, but is invested back into the pupil transportation community.
Although I encourage you to attend your state association events, held during the summer in most states, I believe it’s also important to support your national organizations.
Pupil transportation is bigger than all of us. It transcends city boundaries and state lines. It is the sum of our work on a national level. When one student is killed or badly injured in a school bus accident, we all feel the pain. If necessary, photocopy this column and show it to the person at your operation who approves travel expenditures. I think you need to be in Kansas City this year for the NAPT event, to listen and learn and expand the knowledge base of our industry.
I’m looking forward to my visit to Kansas City. I hope to see many of you there.