File photo courtesy John Horton

File photo courtesy John Horton

It is often said that the highest honor you can pay someone in the school transportation industry is to say they “bleed yellow.” It’s clear to us what that means, but when called upon to explain it to others, it’s much harder to put into words.

Many in the industry go above and beyond every day. Several do whatever is needed without question. Some of us grew up in the industry, and others found their way to it through more circuitous routes. It doesn’t matter how we got here. What matters is why we stay. Very simply, we stay because we have all found our place, our place among people who care.  

The school transportation industry has historically been there for communities in good times and in bad. We’re there for all those first days of school, all the last days, and the ones in between. We are a constant, and for some families, we’re one of the few constants they have. 

Many in the industry organize yearly “Stuff-the Bus” campaigns to ensure school supplies for their community and others hold coat drives to keep every child warm through the cold winters. Those are easy. We see a need in the people we serve, and we fill it, often without recognition, and even more often at our personal expense.

In times of disasters, our industry is called upon by communities near and far to — among other things — provide buses to evacuate people and to carry relief workers and supplies into hard-hit areas. Think September 11, 2001, or Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The industry stepped in and did what we do best: we moved people in a caring and safe way, often for days, simply because we were needed.

Ronna Weber is president of the consulting firm Colonial Strategies.

Ronna Weber is president of the consulting firm Colonial Strategies.

The Coronavirus pandemic has called upon our industry in unforeseen ways. With many schools closed, children need learning resources, and many also need the meals they rely upon their school to provide. Many bus drivers across the country were called into service to ensure those things got where they were needed. Who best but the drivers who know their kids and the neighborhoods?

Without question, we rise to the occasion, no matter what it brings.

In addition, some of our industry’s manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers are stepping up to help make and move all of the much-needed supplies those fighting this virus so desperately need. Thanks to their sacrifice, many of our front-line health care and emergency workers will now have the necessary equipment to stay safe and to care for those in need.

Separately we can all do a little. Together, even in this era of social distancing, we can do so much. It’s what we in the pupil transportation industry are used to doing. 

It is without a doubt an honor to be part of this industry each and every day, but never more so than today. There is so much uncertainty as we live through this most unprecedented time, but this industry always rises up, goes above and beyond, and shows what it means to “bleed yellow.”

Together, we rise.