At First Student’s terminal in Wichita, Kan., drivers are not allowed to back up their buses unless the situation is extreme, but even then, they must have a spotter. Senior Location Manager John Billigmeier says the routes are designed so that drivers don’t have to back up at a stop.
Is there room for the bus?
Making sure that your school buses have enough space to maneuver at their stops is essential in planning their locations on a route.
At First Student’s terminal in Wichita, Kan., the drivers are not allowed to back up their buses on a route unless the situation is extreme, and even then, the drivers must have a spotter, according to Senior Location Manager John Billigmeier.
Taking that into account, Billigmeier says, “We design our routes so that buses will not have to back up at any time. You don’t want a bus going down a cul-de-sac and not being able to get out.”
Adequate turnaround area for buses is also a consideration for the School District of Maple (Wis.).
David Korhonen, director of buildings, grounds and transportation, says almost every student for which transportation is provided is picked up or dropped off at their rural home addresses.
“Determining safe locations to turn around on rural roadways is of highest priority,” he says. “Because visibility at private driveways is an issue, we most always back into driveways. We always pick up students prior to backing up and drop off students after we have backed up at turnaround locations. We also get great cooperation with townships and villages to create turnaround areas at dead-end roadways when private driveways are inadequate.”
Rely on feedback
Pupil transporters say they often rely on their drivers to tell them if they believe a bus stop is in an unsafe location, and some also welcome feedback from parents.
“We tell parents that if they see bus stops that they think are unsafe, they can contact us and we’ll go down and look at the stops,” Hennerley says.
“In Wichita, we have over 2,400 runs a day between 505 routes, so input from the drivers is extremely important,” Billigmeier says. “We make numerous changes during our dry runs and the first couple of days of school. We have a safety team that also helps to go out to high-interest stops to ensure that we are operating in those areas as safely as possible.”
Somerville also emphasizes the importance of going out to look at stops’ locations as opposed to solely relying on the satellite view of stops through a routing software program.
He adds that at one school district that U.S. Computing worked with, the transportation department staff took photos of their bus stop locations and then stored the pictures in the company’s routing software program for future reference.