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September 01, 2006  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Decade by Decade: 50 Years of Pupil Transportation History

Countless occurrences have shaped the school bus industry over the past half-century, from safety innovations to key legislation to tragic accidents. Here’s an overview of noteworthy news that SCHOOL BUS FLEET has covered throughout its own history.

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Beginning of a Trend
Hitchcock Publishing debuts the magazine School Bus Trends, a predecessor of SCHOOL BUS FLEET, with current Miss America Sharon Kay Ritchie perched on a 1956 Wayne “Superamic” school bus on the cover.

Millions of children
The number of schoolchildren transported nationwide at public expense passes the 10 million mark.



Need a lift?
A school bus with a built-in elevator, believed to be the first of its kind, begins transporting special-needs students to and from school in San Lorenzo, Calif. The bus, which was designed and built by Gillig Brothers, is also fitted with floor attachments where wheelchairs can be anchored and individual seat belts for each child.



Tragic plunge
Twenty-six pupils and their school bus driver are killed after the bus strikes another vehicle and plunges into the Big Sandy River in Prestonsburg, Ky. The state superintendent issues 10 compulsory precautions to prevent another such tragedy.



Pushing safety program
After a Maryland school bus-train collision in which seven children were killed, the National Safety Council distributes a three-point program to safeguard school bus passengers. The program focused on: 1. Selection and training of drivers. 2. Inspection and preventive maintenance of buses. 3. Establishment of legal standards for the behind-the-wheel performance of school bus drivers through driver licensing.



Diesel proves popular
In a statewide survey, 87 percent of California school transportation officials say they prefer diesel to gasoline power. Four percent say they don’t prefer diesel, while the remainder want more experience with the fuel. The fleets represented in the survey comprise 574 gas-powered school buses and 122 diesels. The first diesel school buses in the state went into service in 1954.

Tweaking the title
Hitchcock changes the name of School Bus Trends to School Bus Transportation.



Lights lower accident rate
New Jersey mandates a new system of eight identification lights on school buses — two red and two amber on the front and back. The number of accidents at bus stops over the following year drops 68 percent from the average of the past five years.



Gate inhibits accidents
Superior Coach introduces a bumper-mounted, hydraulically operated gate to prevent children from crossing too close to the front of the bus.



New voice for contractors
The National Association of School Bus Contract-Operators, later renamed the National School Transportation Association, is founded to represent the interests and concerns of private pupil transporters.



Momentous makeover
Sporting a new name, look and vision, SCHOOL BUS FLEET debuts as the successor to School Bus Transportation, which Bobit Publishing has bought from Hitchcock Publishing.





Landmark safety act
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 charges the government with reducing traffic crashes and developing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Testing school bus durability
Researchers at the Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineers (ITE) at UCLA conduct the first series of school bus collision studies. The findings, which will raise the bar for new national safety standards, are later presented to Congress in a 165-page tome titled School Bus Passenger Protection.



Tougher safety standards
Indiana House Bill 1868 empowers the state’s School Bus Committee to issue rules for safe pupil transportation. The act mandates that children be seated during transit and that the number of passengers not surpass the manufacturer-rated capacity.

NASDPTS established
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services is formed. The membership will represent all 50 states and several U.S. territories.



Computer aids in scheduling
IBM’s nascent computerized vehicle scheduling program, the VSP/360, is given a trial run with New Jersey school buses. The technology expedites scheduling tasks and is deemed a huge success.



National safety week launched
Organized by pupil transportation consultant Dick Fischer, the first National School Bus Safety Week debuts.

Key stats collected
The Kansas Department of Transportation begins collecting national data on deaths in school bus loading and unloading zones.



National roadeo debuts
The National Association of School Bus Contract-Operators hosts the first National School Bus Safety Roadeo in Portland, Ore.

Fatal crash in Colorado
Driver inexperience and brake failure are cited as the causes of a fatal crash in Gunnison, Colo., that results in nine fatalities. The majority of the occupants are ejected from the school bus. The driver had lost control of the bus on a treacherous mountain pass.



Standard 17 adopted as law
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues Standard 17, a set of national guidelines establishing mandates in school bus operation, inspection, maintenance and driver and passenger training.



Bolstering safety
The Motor Vehicle and School Bus Safety Amendments of 1974 authorizes $115 million to carry out the mandates of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. The Department of Transportation is required to establish minimum school bus safety standards within 15 months.

NAPT founded
The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) becomes a formal organization. Robert A. “Bob” Larson of Minneapolis is named its first president.



Act shifts bus drivers’ role
The passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act guarantees equal rights for every school-age child while expanding the role and responsibility of those who transport special-needs students.

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