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February 04, 2014  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Team stays proactive to maintain safe service

From its school bus maintenance to its driver training, the transportation employees at Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Mich., look ahead and analyze information to identify potential problems or areas that need improvement.

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Darryl Hofstra has been Forest Hills Public Schools’ supervisor of transportation since 2004, a role he’s proud to hold. He says it is a premier district in the Grand Rapids area and in the state of Michigan.

Darryl Hofstra has been Forest Hills Public Schools’ supervisor of transportation since 2004, a role he’s proud to hold. He says it is a premier district in the Grand Rapids area and in the state of Michigan.

For the transportation team at Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Mich., being proactive is the name of the game in order to get students to and from school safely.

“It’s about looking at data and making data-driven decisions,” Supervisor of Transportation Darryl Hofstra says. “It’s about identifying potential problems and eliminating them ahead of time.”

A case in point is maintenance of the district’s 80 school buses, which are on a 12-year replacement cycle. In months when salt is used on the roads, buses are brought in every two weeks to be washed to help prevent corrosion from the salt, which ultimately extends the service of the buses.

Buses are also brought in to the shop every 3,000 miles for a safety inspection and a general overview of any service that needs to be performed. Hofstra says the preventive maintenance program is comprehensive, and one thing he’s adamant about and has worked with his technicians on is addressing issues with buses before they become a problem.

“We do everything we can to mitigate breakdowns in the field because it causes a lot of problems for everyone,” Hofstra says. “One example is, if we determine that there’s a common thing that’s happening and we’ve seen it routinely with a particular model year or style of bus, we begin identifying why it’s happening and take steps to correct it proactively.”

This rigorous approach to maintenance has paid off. The district has finished in the 95% to 100% category for school bus inspections performed by the Michigan State Police’s Bus Inspection Unit since Hofstra joined the district in 2004.

In addition, when one of the district’s buses caught fire while a driver was on a route in November, Hofstra immediately took action. The nine buses in the fleet that are of the same year and model as the bus that caught fire were removed from service, and as of mid-December, they remained out of service.    

Investigators determined that the main power distribution module under the hood of the bus was the point of origin and the cause of the fire, but as of mid-December, the reason for the component’s failure was not yet known.  

Hofstra says the remaining nine buses in the fleet of that same year and model have been fully inspected, and the power distribution module in those buses has been replaced by the manufacturer utilizing its dealer’s master technician.

(Hofstra hoped to be able to return the nine buses to service in early January once documentation from the manufacturer and dealer confirmed that the buses are safe to operate.)

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Read more about: driver training, Great Fleets, Michigan, preventive maintenance

very Cool I ould like more info on your program!!!! I am alays looking for better ways to maintain my bus fleet.

Chip Artlip    |    Feb 27, 2014 03:36 AM

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