News from the World of Pupil Transportation

Posted on October 1, 2002

Colorado mother launches bumper sticker campaign

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — With thousands of students at Mesa County Valley School District 51 getting ready for the 2002-03 school year, motorists not obeying speed limits and other traffic laws were becoming a major concern to Grand Junction residents this summer. Andrea Jones, a local mother of three, decided to take action.

"Every summer, I would put up signs in my neighborhood and try to remind people to watch for kids," said Jones. "But I knew that if I wanted to go anywhere with this, I would have to do something professional about it."

So Jones started a safety campaign using the following slogan: "Watch your speed. Look for children." She had bumper stickers made with the slogan and began placing them on street signs. But after authorities kept taking them down, she decided to ask Laidlaw Education Services, the transportation provider for School District 51, if it was interested in displaying the stickers on its buses. Laidlaw approved of Jones' idea and placed the bumper stickers on all 150 school buses in its fleet.

"The idea spawned from my neighborhood, but once it got put on the school buses, that is when it really took off," said Jones.

The slogan was also displayed on marquees at 20 different businesses, including Burger King, Farmer's Insurance and the Mesa Mall. Medal Gold Dairies placed it on every milk carton sold in western Colorado. Local television and radio stations ran promos on the campaign, and the Grand Junction ABC affiliate used the slogan in a six-week public service announcement that aired every night during the evening news. In addition, after footing the bill on the stickers initially, Jones now has sponsors paying for the production of more. But has all the publicity paid off?

According to Jones it has. "Even just seeing people on the street behind school buses, you can tell that the awareness level has really gone up," said Jones. "That was my whole goal from the start."


Illinois toughens school travel laws

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Motorcoach drivers in Illinois will have to obtain school bus driver permits if they want to transport children on school-sponsored trips under a law signed by Gov. George Ryan. That means that motorcoach drivers will have to pass school bus-specific written and skills tests, undergo federal criminal background checks, complete a six- to eight-hour training course and take an annual three-hour refresher as part of their school bus licensing.

"I believe it is essential to send a strong message to schools and the transportation industry that our children's safety is of utmost importance," said Ryan at the Aug. 23 signing of the bill. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2003.

The impetus for the tightened transportation regulation was the crash of a chartered coach that was full of schoolchildren. One passenger died in the crash. The driver had a CDL but no passenger certification.


Thomas Built Buses names new president

HIGH POINT, N.C. — John Thomas III, president of Thomas Built Buses, announced that he is leaving his position to take a consulting role with the company. John O'Leary has been named as his successor.

Thomas, the great grandson of the company's founder, has been president for 10 years and was instrumental in selling the company to DaimlerChrysler in 1998. After helping to build what was once a minor player into one of the largest school bus manufacturers in the U.S., Thomas will now consult the company on numerous topics.

As his replacement, O'Leary will oversee Thomas Built's school bus manufacturing operations. He will be responsible for all functional areas of the company's High Point, N.C.-based facility, which employs more than 1,400 workers.

For the past two years, O'Leary has held key financial positions with Freightliner LLC, the parent company of Thomas Built Buses, and was most recently the director of corporate audit. Since March 2001, he has directed the daily management of Freightliner's turnaround program.


PTSI opens 24-hour online store

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) has launched its One Stop Shop™ Online Store at — putting the largest collection of school bus safety education and training products on to the Web.

Products in the store address needs in all aspects of pupil transportation including management, student training, driver training, attendant training, and Head Start.

"Customers now have the option of browsing and ordering our over 225 products from their computers," says Ted Finlayson-Schueler, PTSI's executive director.

"We believe this added convenience will benefit the thousands of pupil transportation managers, trainers and drivers we serve. We will continue to take orders the traditional way and to publish an annual catalog, but are excited about offering our products online to those who like to shop via the Internet," he adds.

Finlayson-Schueler says the online store features an electronic search function (by product title, topic, item number or product type), color images of all products and order processing via credit card, purchase order or phone/fax/mail. It also recalls basic information about customers to expedite checkout. "Of course, behind the store is a PTSI staff person to answer questions (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time)," adds Finlayson-Schueler.

The online store contains all the products in PTSI's Resource Catalog (published annually with support from IC Corp.), plus products that are specific to New York state. All new products released since the Resource Catalog was distributed in July are also included.

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