ANNISTON, Ala. — A local school district’s transportation director opened his department’s facilities for one day last week to other school personnel and the general public to show that school transportation is not just about driving buses.
On June 22, Banyon Allison hosted an open house, sponsored by school bus dealer Southland International Buses, at the Calhoun County School District. The event, which received 75 attendees, was designed to expose stakeholders to everything that is involved in running the day-to-day operations of a rural transportation department with a fleet of 154 buses that transport up to 6,000 students every school day. School administrators, personnel, board members, local media, and bus drivers were invited to attend.
“Everybody is very familiar with buses — at least they think they are,” Allison said. “But only [with whether] they pick up and drop off on time, and if everybody is safe. I don’t think a lot of people, whether it’s the general public, teachers, [or] other administrators, understand the intricacies of how the operation works. I was trying to expose not only the educational establishment but also the general public [to the fact] that there is a lot to this; it’s not just buying a bus, filling it up with gas, and driving it around. It’s not that easy.”
Several vendors participated in the event, demonstrating their products and answering attendees’ questions, including Synovia Solutions, Transfinder, McGriff Tire, W.W. Williams, and Jack Greene Oil Co. School bus dealers Southland International Buses, Transportation South, and Busworx Blue Bird also joined the open house. The transportation department staff showed off its 25 new buses with new cameras and air conditioning, routing software, GPS tablets, fleet tracking software, as well as a new service truck.
Additionally, transportation personnel were on hand to explain the details involved in how the transportation department works.
“The ultimate purpose was to illustrate the complexities of a working transportation department, allow vendors to collaborate with one another, and simply have a good time,” Allison said. “Mission accomplished.”