When John J. Corrado got started in pupil transportation in 1988 after working in public accounting, he was surprised to learn that cost was the only criterion used for awarding school bus service contracts in New York state at the time.
Corrado, now president of Suffolk Transportation Service on Long Island in New York, said this meant that some subpar school bus operators were winning contracts, because school districts had to select the lowest bidder.
“Several companies were running out of gas stations and dirt lots. No training facilities, no road supervision, and in some cases no shop,” Corrado recalled. “This did not sit well with me.”
Through the New York School Bus Contractors Association, Corrado and the similarly named John Corr of The Trans Group spearheaded a push for a request for proposals (RFP) law that would enable districts to choose a school bus contractor based not only on cost, but also on such factors as safety record, quality of service, fleet condition, and reliability.
“The assignment of moving children was just too important to leave to the lowest bidder, and I knew I could not spend my entire career trying to figure out how to cut corners on safety to win bids,” Corrado said.
In his nearly 30 years in the industry, Corrado has served as a driving force for safe and efficient student transportation at his own company and beyond. He has also implemented tighter security measures at Suffolk's facilities, and his buses have provided critical transportation assistance during major emergencies in the region, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
For his enduring efforts, School Bus Fleet has named Corrado its 2017 Contractor of the Year. He is the 50th recipient of the award, which was presented at the National School Transportation Association’s (NSTA’s) annual meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
"John Corrado embodies what we all hope to accomplish as contractors," said Todd Monteferrario, president of NSTA. "He and his team at Suffolk Transportation work hard every day to ensure safe transportation for all students and industry-leading specialized training for the drivers."
An in-depth profile of Corrado and Suffolk Transportation will appear in the September issue of SBF.