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March 01, 2005  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

SBF's 2005 Contractor Showcase

Meet five of the nation's largest school bus contractors, and find out what separates them from the rest of the pack.

2005 Contractor Showcase'>
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Durham School Services

Austin, Texas

Getting its start as a three-bus special-needs school transportation provider in southern California, Durham School Services in Austin, Texas, has grown significantly in size and geographic spread over the past 50 years.

The company, a division of the National Express Group, now operates more than 8,400 school buses for 275 districts in 20 states and transports more than 175,000 children daily.

According to SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s 2004 Top 50 Contractor survey, this makes Durham the third-largest contractor in North America.

Despite its size, Durham has managed to maintain a small-business customer relations attitude. To ensure that the company is providing solid service, it regularly surveys its customers. The feedback provides information that can be integrated into the service delivery package.

On the maintenance side, Durham has a strict preventive maintenance program. Mechanics keep buses in a condition that meets or exceeds state and federal inspection requirements.

Bus drivers share some of the maintenance responsibility, following through twice daily on an 86-point safety inspection. Fueling stops also are used to doublecheck the condition of belts, hoses and fluid levels.

The result of this close attention to maintenance detail is optimal bus operation and a minimized chance of road breakdowns, both of which save money and reduce overhead.

Safety is also a key component of Durham’s operational philosophy. To emphasize the importance of safety, every employee signs a Commitment to Safety agreement. It also sponsors an awards program for accident- and injury-free job performance.

Another important part of the commitment to safety is the comprehensive training for K-3 children offered by the company. Durham uses live demonstrations, videos and games to teach their riders how to enjoy a safe trip to and from school.

Partnering with community-centered organizations is one way that Durham extends its reach beyond the traditional transportation services role. It is the official transportation sponsor for the Special Olympics Summer Games in California and Texas and sponsor gold medals in those states as well as in Washington.

School buses in fleet: 8,400
States operating in: 20
Students transported: More than 175,000
Company head: John Elliott, president and chief executive officer
Phone: (800) 950-0485

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