All of the employees at Community Transportation LLC work together to help keep the fleet running smoothly. Pictured are Wendy Barstow, operations manager, and John Berry, shop foreman.
Operation prevails over harsh winters with teamwork
Community Transportation LLC
Established in 2003, Jaffrey, N.H.-based Community Transportation LLC, which transports 1,800 special-needs students and regular-education students to school, has received 100 percent on every annual state inspection conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Safety. With a fleet of 20 Thomas Built Saf-T Liner C2s, 10 Thomas Minotours and nine Dodge minivans, that is no easy feat.
Joel Weissman, owner of Community Transportation, credits much of this success to his shop, which is staffed by one technician who performs preventive maintenance on the vehicles. He also relies on his dealer, W.C. Cressey and Sons, which not only offers maintenance training for Weissman’s employee, but also performs the heavy maintenance jobs should a major problem occur. The dealer is two hours away from the shop, and the staff is always willing to help Weissman and his staff whenever there is a problem.
“I think any bus company should have a relationship with its dealers because the dealers know the equipment better than anyone,” he explains.
Weissman also notes that without his drivers, his maintenance program would not be very effective.
“Our maintenance department has a good working relationship with our drivers, with drivers taking an active role in keeping their vehicles in top condition,” he says.
When something seems amiss with a bus, drivers immediately inform him and his technician to make sure everything is functioning properly.
“Our drivers are the greatest strength to the maintenance program,” Weissman says. “They treat the buses like their own vehicles, they clean the buses, they make sure that everything is working properly, and they fill out all the work order forms.”
But even with all the driver help, it doesn’t counter the biggest challenge facing the maintenance department: heavy winters. “We’re in the southwest corner of New Hampshire, and the winters are hard on equipment,” he says.
During these rough winters, he notes that potholes are spread throughout the road, which can cause major damage to vehicles if they are not handled properly. However, Weissman says that his drivers are very skilled at defensive driving in rough weather conditions, which eliminates potential maintenance issues.
It also helps that the operation runs a considerably new fleet, with vehicles ranging from 2004 model year to 2009 model year, which Weissman purchased when the company took over a contract in one of the area school districts.
“Preventive maintenance is first of all making sure we have good equipment,” he says. In order for the buses to meet Community Transportation’s specifications, the company spent more money per vehicle on equipment that eases maintenance issues, such as heavier accessories and better tires. Not only have the new vehicles reduced maintenance issues, but they’ve also reduced fuel costs by $34,000.
Community Transportation’s school buses contain Webasto heaters to preheat the buses, reducing strain on the engine while cutting emissions. Additionally, there is a no-idling policy that each driver must follow.
— ASHLEY WILLIS
Fleet: 30 school buses, 6 other vehicles
Total shop staff: 1
Number of bus bays: 1
Annual mileage: 550,000
Students transported: 1,800
Schools served: 2