Although SBF editors spend most of their time behind a desk, on the phone, typing or digging around in their snack drawer for a Hershey’s bar (or maybe that’s just me), it’s also part of our job to visit school bus operations on a regular basis and get the “boots-on-the-ground” view of the pupil transportation industry.
None of us has ever driven a bus. It’s been years since any of us rode one to school, and we’ve never had to plan routes, resolve employee disputes or actually do much of what we write about in the magazine. We do a lot of research and talk to as many experts as we can when preparing an article, but there’s so much to be learned about the feel of the job and the day-to-day routine by visiting a school bus yard, meeting the people there and asking lots of questions.
I had the privilege recently of visiting the bus barn at the high school I attended in my hometown. I never rode the bus to high school because my parents live under a mile away, but there are many kids who rely on those buses: kids from the nearby military base, from the American Indian reservation about 15 miles east, and from other far-flung corners of the largely rural town.
I’ll also never forget one of the first visits I went on for the magazine, where the director of transportation, a guy who had held that position for decades, was working out of a cramped trailer packed full of files and equipment. He told us the district had been promising him a real office for years. Despite that, he kept a pleasant demeanor and seemed to be able to get the job done. (I hope he’s gotten his office by now!)
Because SBF headquarters are located in Southern California, we’re somewhat limited to visiting operations in the area or in cities where we travel for business. However, you could always take us on a virtual tour by sending a few photos and telling us a bit about your operation, or post your photos to our Facebook page to share with us and our 478 fans!
Also inspired by the robotic bus
Our last blog post told of Robbie Ward, an autistic second-grader who built a replica of Buster the School Bus out of Legos. After reading the post, George Horne, a school transportation consultant and president of Horne Enterprises in Metairie, La., sent us his own work that was inspired by Buster. The poem can be used with specific school names inserted. Just include the attribution to the author.
A Visit From Buster
Buster, a friendly magic bus,
Came to (name of school) one day.
He danced and rolled; he whirled and winked
And joined us in our play.
He told us all about the rules
To keep us safe from harm;
And like a magic bus should do,
Buster smiled and worked his charm.
He said, “Don’t ever run or shove
When waiting for a ride.
Stay put! And when the driver says, ‘Okay!’
Cross to the other side.
“Stay in your seats and don’t act up;
Don’t throw trash on the floor;
And never stand and lean against
The emergency exit door.
“Sure, you can talk—but not too loud!
The driver has to hear
A honking horn or clanging bell.
A train may be drawing near.
“On rainy days, you should wear bright clothes.
You’ll be easier to see.
A yellow raincoat...good idea...
Like the color they painted me!”
Soon, it was time for Buster to leave.
He had many stops to make.
He had to talk with other kids
And dance for safety sake.
I’ll do my best at (name of school)
When I get on the bus;
And when I board at my home stop,
About safety, I won’t fuss!
I’ll remember every day
My little magic friend.
Buster, I’ll do my very best
Until you come again!
George F. Horne
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