LATHAM, N.Y. — The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) presented its 2015 industry safety and service awards at its 61st annual convention, held Oct. 16 – 18, in New York City.

“It’s during our annual convention that our industry gathers together from all over the state to learn the latest about school bus safety, industry innovations and best practices,” said newly elected NYSBCA President Mike Martucci. “It also gives us the opportunity to recognize the people in our industry who have demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, a tremendous commitment to student safety, and a profound dedication to the school districts and communities in which they serve.”

The NYSBCA presented four awards this year: Contractor of the Year, Distinguished Service Award and two Heart of the Industry Awards.

The Contractor of the Year award is the association’s highest honor and is presented to a contractor who, along with having an exceptional safety and performance record, has superior maintenance and training programs, and is deeply involved with their local communities. The winner is also honored with the Roger Weeks Scholarship Award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship made to the Contractor of the Year Award winner’s school district of choice. This year’s Contractor of the Year Award went to Neil Strahl, President of Pioneer Transportation Corp.

Strahl has demonstrated exceptional leadership in running one of the highest ranking New York City school bus companies, with over 800 daily routes, and with his determination and commitment to safe, reliable, and quality service, he has served as an inspiration to his peers throughout the entire pupil transportation industry, according to NYSBCA.

"It is a tremendous honor to receive the 2015 Contractor of the Year/Roger Weeks Scholarship Award from the NYSBCA, particularly because it is a recognition by my esteemed peers and colleagues in the New York state school bus transportation industry,” said Neil Strahl, President of Pioneer Transportation.

“When my father Marty Strahl, and his partner, Sam Zinder, founded Pioneer Transportation in 1972, their vision and mission were very clear: to operate a quality, safe, reliable and leading pupil transportation company that our family and New York City could be proud of," he added. "Over 43 years later, our vision is as strong and clear as ever. I am very proud of our industry leadership and high standards, and our employees and service to the city of New York. I thank the NYSBCA for bestowing on me and Pioneer Transportation their highest honor and I know my father and Sam would be very proud."

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to the person who has demonstrated an unmatched commitment to the association’s mission to provide the safest, most reliable and cost-effective student transportation possible. This year’s Distinguished Service Award recipient is state Assemblyman Keith Wright from Harlem, New York.  

Wright was presented the award for his hard work, dedication and tireless support of the private pupil transportation industry in New York.   

Heart of the Industry Award “On Road” winner Kevin Darcy, driver for Quality Bus Service, left, shows off his award with incoming NYSBCA President and Owner of Quality Bus Service Mike Martucci.

Heart of the Industry Award “On Road” winner Kevin Darcy, driver for Quality Bus Service, left, shows off his award with incoming NYSBCA President and Owner of Quality Bus Service Mike Martucci. 

The Heart of the Industry Award honors an industry employee who, through the course of their job performance, has demonstrated a deep commitment to improving other peoples’ lives and who has gone above and beyond to accomplish that goal.

The association gives out two Heart of the Industry Awards; one to an “on-road” employee and the other to an “off-road” employee.  The award is sponsored by Factory Direct Bus Sales, and presented by Rick Reichenbach, the owner of Factory Direct Bus Sales.

This year’s NYSBCA On-Road Heart of the Industry Award went to retired fire chief Kevin Darcy, driver for Quality Bus Service, and this year’s Off-Road award winner is Frank Klein, director of safety and training at Suffolk Transportation Service Inc.

“The recipients of these awards represent the best of what our industry has to offer and their dedication and commitment to safe, reliable and cost-effective private pupil transportation is truly inspiring,” Martucci said. “They set the standard for all us to follow and we, along with their peers, family, friends, co-workers, and school districts, are proud to join them in celebrating their efforts and accomplishments.”

Bree Allen, regional leader of Ethan Allen Transportation, has been named to the NYSBCA board of directors.

Bree Allen, regional leader of Ethan Allen Transportation, has been named to the NYSBCA board of directors.

Meanwhile, Bree Allen, regional leader of Ethan Allen Transportation, which serves the Kingston City School District, was named to the NYSBCA’s the board of directors. The announcement was made by NYSBCA Executive Director Jennifer Hickey Bruce.

“It is an honor to welcome Bree to the board of directors,” Bruce said. “We look forward to her help in advancing our goal that all contractors in the state enjoy access to the latest school transportation safety education and training resources. I’m confident her contributions to the board will be many and will be felt throughout NYSBCA.”

Allen also serves as co-chair of the government relations committee of the National School Transportation Association.  

Under Allen’s direction, Ethan Allen Transportation has been recognized for its commitment to the highest possible safety standards, including ongoing driver training and education, and was awarded the Ulster County School Bus Driver of the Year designation by the Mid-Hudson Transportation Supervisors Association.

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