Westfield, Ind. — Last Friday, IMMI announced the completion of an order to supply seating for the 630 buses serving Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools as part of a new transportation contract.
With this order, the district has equipped its entire fleet with SafeGuard Integrated Child Seats (ICS) and 20 percent of its fleet with the SafeGuard FlexSeat. Through a phase-in schedule, by the 2014 school year, all buses will be equipped with the SafeGuard FlexSeat, offering lap-shoulder belt protection to all passengers.
Former Assistant Superintendent John Fahey managed the bid process that led to equipping the fleet with belted seating. The decision to include lap-shoulder belts on the Buffalo fleet started with Fahey's personal experiences investigating an average of 80 school bus accidents each year.
"I have witnessed firsthand how compartmentalization works, but during the course of my investigations, I saw way too many accidents where the kids were jostled around the compartment and I wish they had been restrained," Fahey said. "There's a longstanding dichotomy about seat belts in this industry. Seat belts are everywhere else. That never sat well with me."
In relation to specifying ICS for the transportation of preschool children, Fahey said the district had used child seats in the past. "We transport more than 500 3-year-olds in child seats each year, and we were forced to use a standard car seat, fishing the lap belt of the bus through the back of the seats to secure them," he explained. "We found child seats to be awkward and difficult to use, and we were never able to be fully confident they were always installed properly. Integrated Child Seats will be a huge improvement."
The new seating technology was specified as part of a recent transportation bid. The district's incumbent contractor was the successful bidder, retaining its longstanding partnership with the district.
Fahey is retired from Buffalo Public Schools and now works for the Tyler Technologies school division as a Versatrans consultant. Director of Transportation Al Diamico will handle the implementation phase of the project when school begins on Sept. 8. IMMI provided training on the proper use of the ICS and FlexSeat for the school system's transportation department and the contractor.