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August 31, 2010  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

NSTA Convention Features Notable News, Events

The association reveals that the Transportation Security Administration has completed its pupil transportation security assessment. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new initiative to improve large bus and truck safety is discussed. Attendees also celebrate two industry veterans who are retiring.

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Pictured are NSTA officers and committee members. The association’s committees met to focus on work to support the NSTA’s 2010-13 strategic plan.

Pictured are NSTA officers and committee members. The association’s committees met to focus on work to support the NSTA’s 2010-13 strategic plan.

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

Rose McMurray of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spoke to attendees about the administration’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative and the Strike Force project.

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.

During one session, Kathy Furneaux of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute spoke to School Bus Driver International Safety Competition contestants about the stranded pupil problem.

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.

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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.”

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