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August 09, 2011  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Case study: Revamping a transportation department

A year ago, Jeff Walker became transportation director at Litchfield Elementary School District #79 in Phoenix. The department has since cut costs, reduced the number of student disciplinary incidents on its buses and improved its safety record.

by Brittany-Marie Swanson

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The department redid its bus lot for $197 by using free asphalt from a local construction project and painting the lines themselves.
<p>The department redid its bus lot for $197 by using free asphalt from a local construction project and painting the lines themselves.</p>

Get creative about cutting costs
Walker notes that he and his staff got creative when it came to cutting costs. When he first started his new job, Walker noticed that drivers were responsible for washing their own buses, which, he says, “I had issues with from a safety standpoint.”

The department saved approximately $10,000 in one year by hiring a mobile bus washing service to perform the task instead, Walker says. Rather than pay drivers overtime to clean their buses, the district has the company wash its buses once a month in the evening, when all the buses are on the lot.

Walker and his staff were also able to perform a much-needed parking lot renovation for a mere $197.

According to Walker, a nearby freeway was under construction, and the crew needed a place to dispose of extra temporary asphalt. “We said, heck yeah, bring it on,” Walker says.

After the crew laid the asphalt on what was originally a dirt lot, Walker and Tommy Sims, the regular routing specialist and field trip coordinator, painted lines in the lot.

“When I was in college, one of my summer jobs was striping parking lots,” Walker continues. “So over a long weekend, Tommy and I came in and we striped the entire parking lot ourselves. We improved our flow and our efficiency by turning it into a one-way lot.”

In addition, the staff worked together to introduce routing software to the department. “I was shocked when I got here and I found out … we’ve got 14 schools and 10,500 students and we were still doing the routing by hand,” Walker says. “So we’ve implemented [Tyler Technologies’] Versatrans for our routing and planning software this year, and that’s working wonders for us.”

The department has also introduced three new buses with wheelchair lifts to make special-needs transportation more cost-efficient for the district.

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Read more about: behavior management, cutting costs, driver training, efficiency, morale, routing, software systems

Mr. Walker, I read this article and wish other transportation people could see us the way you do . I like "student transporter" it does give you better title for the job we do . I have been in transportation for over 25 years your ideas are some of the fresh's yet simpliest actions I have seen. I wish you continue and hope other transportation departments notice the pro-active changes you have accomplished. Thanks.

brian s.    |    Aug 13, 2011 11:08 AM

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