This year's National School Transportation Association (NSTA) Annual Meeting & Convention, held over five days in St. Louis in late July, was a momentous one. Promising developments within national transportation agencies that will impact the school bus industry were announced.
Moreover, Danielle Abe, director of marketing and operations for NSTA, says a new program from the American School Bus Council (ASBC) to gain support for the industry was enthusiastically received by attendees.
The NSTA also welcomed several new members to its board of directors, and its 2010-13 strategic plan was approved.
"The strategic plan will drive the association's actions for the next three years," Abe says.
During the awards ceremony, attendees paid tribute to Barry Stock of National Express Corp. and industry consultant Robin Leeds, who are both retiring.
Security assessment, new safety initiative forthcoming
[IMAGE]563[/IMAGE]Among the positive news shared with convention attendees was that progress has been made on the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) pupil transportation security assessment.
Congressional staff has confirmed that the Homeland Security Committee received the school bus vulnerability report from TSA, but they are not able to share it yet.
The TSA is finalizing a document called "School Bus Security Best Practices," and at some point in the near future, the agency intends to publish security action items for school bus operations, followed by a regulation. The best practices piece will likely be included in the next National Congress on School Transportation National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures document as an appendix, NSTA reports.
On the safety front, during a presentation to conferees, Rose McMurray, chief safety officer and assistant administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), explained the difference between the administration’s SAFER system and the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 system that will replace it once it is fully implemented next year.
CSA 2010 is an initiative to improve large truck and bus safety to help reduce commercial motor vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. It introduces a new enforcement and compliance model that will allow the FMCSA and its state partners to contact a larger number of carriers earlier to address safety problems before crashes occur.
[IMAGE]564[/IMAGE]The initiative’s operational model comprises three main components:
• Measurement. CSA 2010 measures safety performance in new ways, using inspection and crash results to identify carriers whose behaviors could reasonably lead to crashes.
• Evaluation. CSA 2010 helps FMCSA and its state partners correct high risk behavior by contacting more carriers and drivers, with interventions tailored to their specific safety problems, as well as a new safety fitness determination methodology.
• Intervention. CSA 2010 covers the full spectrum of safety issues, from how data are collected, evaluated and shared to how enforcement officials can intervene most effectively and efficiently to improve safety on the nation’s roads.
For more information, visit http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov.
McMurray also discussed the FMCSA’s Strike Force project and how it applies to school bus contractors.
The goal of the project is to remove unsafe buses, motorcoaches and other passenger carriers and drivers from the road.
“The enforcement arm of the FMCSA will make surprise visits to companies to inspect their buses and equipment to make sure they are in good working order,” Abe explains. “In regard to the school bus industry, the project only applies to school bus contractor companies that provide interstate service.”
Convention sessions and industry advocacy efforts
[IMAGE]567[/IMAGE]Many sessions were offered during the convention. Among this year’s speakers was Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the subcommittees on Communications, Technology and the Internet; Energy and Environment; and Health.
Abe says Shimkus took questions from the attendees and spoke about his area of interest as a member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas Built Buses, headed a presentation on the ASBC’s Yellow School Bus Champions program.
The program is designed to help industry professionals drum up support for the use of school buses. It includes a slideshow presentation that pupil transporters can give to a school board, parents, etc. The presentation covers the safety and environmental benefits of school bus transportation, as well as its integral role in contributing to students’ education.
“The presentation that Ken gave was to inform attendees how they can present the program for folks in their own communities to make sure that school buses aren’t cut out of their budgets,” Abe explains. “The idea of the yellow school bus champion is to get everyone on board with giving that presentation, or at least getting people ready to give it if necessary.”
The ASBC will officially launch the program at the National Association for Pupil Transportation Summit this October and November in Portland, Ore.
The latest at the NSTA
With the NSTA’s 2010-13 strategic plan approved, the association’s committees met during the convention to focus on their scoping work to support the plan.
Additionally, the following board members were introduced: John Gillie of First Student, Cincinnati; Gail Wilson Hyser of Wilson’s Bus in Pasadena, Md.; Rochelle Bast of Riteway Bus in Richfield, Wis.; and John Benish Jr. of Cook-Illinois Corp. in Oak Forest, Ill.
Gary Waits of Durham School Services was appointed to the board for a one-year term to fill a vacancy.
[IMAGE]565[/IMAGE]Contractors from across the U.S. and Canada were recognized in one of the convention’s biggest events, the awards ceremony. This year’s honorees were:
Golden Merit Award
• Kirk Flach, Durham School Services, Warrenville, Ill.
• Robert Hatchett, Durham School Services, Keller, Texas
Hall of Fame Award
• Barry Stock, National Express Corp., Aurora, Ontario
• Stan Weber, First Student Canada, Calgary, Alberta
Distinguished Service Award
• Kellie Dean, Dean Transportation Inc., Lansing, Mich.
Outstanding Driver Service Award
• Dwight Miller, Riteway Bus Service Inc., Richfield, Wis.
Meritorious Service Award
• Robin Leeds, industry consultant, Noank, Conn.
Go Yellow, Go Green Award
• Kickert School Bus Line Inc., Lynwood, Ill.
[IMAGE]566[/IMAGE]Also, Blake Krapf, CEO of Pennsylvania-based Krapf Bus Companies, was named SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s Contractor of the Year. (For more on Krapf, click here.)
NSTA Green School Bus Fleet Certification recipients were recognized during the awards ceremony as well. The program recognizes NSTA members for their efforts to operate environmentally-friendly school buses.
The companies that received certification at gold, silver and bronze levels were:
• Dousman Transportation, Hartland, Wis.
• Hendrickson Bus Corp., Bayville, N.C.
• Huntington Coach Corp., East Northport, N.Y.
• Huntington Coach LLC, Manhasset, N.Y.
• Latino Express, Chicago
• National Express Corp. at locations in Beaufort, S.C.; Carson, Calif.; Davenport, Iowa; Hind County, Miss.; Indianapolis; Memphis, Tenn.; Norwalk, Calif.; Oxnard, Calif.; Rosemead, Calif.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Van Nuys, Calif.
• Riteway Bus Service, Richfield, Wis.
• Dell Transportation, Hempstead, N.Y.
• Huntington Coach Corp. (5th Avenue), Huntington Station, N.Y.
• National Express Corp. at locations in Calabasas, Calif.; Pomona, Calif.;
and Thousand Oaks, Calif.
• United Quick Transportation, Chicago
• Dell Transportation, Port Washington, N.Y.
• Huntington Coach Corp., Huntington Station (3rd Avenue), N.Y.
Of the convention, Abe says, “It was very bittersweet. NSTA welcomed
many new faces to the board and had many new meeting participants, which was exciting, but it was also the last conference for Barry Stock and Robin Leeds. It was great to be able to recognize them for their contributions to the NSTA.”
The 2011 Annual Meeting & Convention will be held July 16-20 in Baltimore.
Safety competition winners
[IMAGE]568[/IMAGE]Top school bus drivers representing 34 states and one Canadian province competed in the 40th Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition, which was held in conjunction with the convention.
The event began with a written test, and then the 109 contestants got behind the wheel to test their driving skills. They competed in one of three categories — Conventional, Transit or Small Bus.
The event culminated with an awards banquet and ceremony where the winners were announced. They are:
• First Place: Larry Hannon — Centennial School District, Warminster, Pa.
• Second Place: Michelle Schurz — First Student, Grand Junction, Colo.
• Third Place: Debra Kay L’Abbe — First Student, Wonder Lake, Ill.
• Fourth Place: Billy McKemey — Wake County Public School System, Fuguay-Varina, N.C.
• Fifth Place: Josy Campbell — Widefield School District 3, Colorado Springs, Colo.
• First Place: Mark Miller — Bellingham (Wash.) Public Schools
• Second Place: Tyler Reynolds — Virginia Beach (Va.) Public Schools
• Third Place: Tracy Brown — First Student, Grand Junction, Colo.
• Fourth Place: Don Hal Haney — Kent (Wash.) School District
• Fifth Place: Robert McManus — Beaumont Independent School District, Vidor, Texas
• First Place: Richard Hall — Floyd County Schools, Allen, Ky.
• Second Place: Danny Ridel — Marysville Joint Unified School District, Yuba City, Calif.
• Third Place: Janet Ruth Turner — Greater Albany (Ore.) Public Schools
• Fourth Place: John Clarke — North Clackamas School District 12, Milwaukie, Ore.
• Fifth Place: Osgood Joshua Simpkins — Montgomery County Public Schools, Radford, Va.
The contestants’ scores and biographies can be found on the NSTA Website, www.yellowbuses.org. The first-place winners in each of the categories received a yellow NSTA jacket.