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March 17, 2011  |   Comments (7)   |   Post a comment

Top Shops 2011

This year for our annual series, we shine the spotlight on five maintenance programs with dedicated staff members who have established efforts to save their operations money, work well with their colleagues and earn excellent fleet safety inspection ratings.

by SBF Staff

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Director of Transportation Rick Smith (left) says head technician Raymond Keifer (second from left) and technician assistant Gene Jones work well with the district’s drivers. The men are pictured with transportation clerks Margie Rowley and Elaine Harrison.
<p>Director of Transportation Rick Smith (left) says head technician Raymond Keifer (second from left) and technician assistant Gene Jones work well with the district’s drivers. The men are pictured with transportation clerks Margie Rowley and Elaine Harrison.</p>

Technician, driver collaboration eases bus maintenance
Valley Center Public Schools
Valley Center, Kan.

For the past 28 years, Valley Center Public Schools’ bus fleet has received a 100-percent passing grade on state inspections. This success is owed in part to its maintenance facility’s head technician, Raymond Keifer, and technician assistant Gene Jones, who have a combined 35 years of experience working with school buses and diesel engines. The pair also has an excellent relationship with the district’s bus drivers.

“Raymond and Gene work very well with our drivers. They keep drivers informed of changes and expected downtimes for their buses due to maintenance or mechanical failures,” says Rick Smith, the district’s director of transportation.

Keifer and Jones also impart bus maintenance knowledge to drivers so that, in the case of a recurring mechanical failure, a driver will be able to identify and handle the problem.

Drivers can also speed up the bus repair process by filling out bus maintenance request forms, which ease communication between drivers and the technicians. The forms, says Smith, were developed to improve the reporting process so “service work can begin when the issue is first noticed.”

To keep the buses running smoothly, the team performs preventive maintenance every 3,500 miles. An oil change is performed every 7,000 miles and, two months before the end of each school year, each bus undergoes “bumper to bumper” maintenance and repair.

At the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, the maintenance team moved into a brand new transportation facility. The new facility is equipped with administrative offices, a fully functional kitchen and two wash bays.

“In addition,” Smith says, “the fronts of our buses are protected by an awning in our bus parking area from inclement weather, which assists drivers when preparing the buses for the school day.”


Shop Stats
Fleet: 33 school buses, 13 other vehicles
Total shop staff: 2
Number of bus bays: 6 work bays and 2 wash bays
Annual mileage: 461,561
Students transported: 1,500
Schools served: 17

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Read more about: efficiency, preventive maintenance

That is an awesome job they are doing.

Natissa Thompson    |    Jan 03, 2012 10:02 AM

I really agree on uniforms. It totally make the company look more professional. I am dealing with school bus drivers here in Illinois. I am a rep, for a company called logo wear direct. We have nice polo shirts. and they are nice for drivers to wear as safety for the children to identify the drivers by the colors and emblems they display for safety reasons. It is a good security measure for all children that ride school buses.

Henry Harris    |    Aug 09, 2011 09:39 PM

Speedwrench has done a great job for me. I highly recomend them! Regards to a prior post of "5 techs per 100 buses seems high", I have them servicing approx 140 buses with 2 techs in the peak season. Do the math, that is 70 school buses per mechanic, but I do some services at our main location when I can get the bus there. Off season, one mechanic is handling it without a problem. They are hard workers and reliable. Quality and Great Customer service!

Andre    |    Jul 27, 2011 07:51 AM

This is to Mark Egan. Just to let you know the fine job you and your team have done for me the past 11 years I drove for Commtrans.You kept me safe by keeping my bus and all buses ROAD READY and safe.Keep in touch [email protected]. Ps . Say hi to Roy ..George

George Smith    |    Jun 18, 2011 01:29 PM

These guys are AWESOME, Clint ISD could not function without these hard working individuals. Keep up the good work!!!

Luis    |    Apr 22, 2011 01:32 PM

You guys are AWESOME!

My Name    |    Apr 15, 2011 02:30 PM

5 technicians for 100 units seem very high!

Manager    |    Apr 02, 2011 02:59 PM

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