- File photo courtesy JD Hardin

File photo courtesy JD Hardin

As unsettling as the last several months have been, it is nice to see some hint of yellow buses rolling down the streets in our communities again.

The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) wants to thank the many volunteers, as well as our sister organizations — the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), and the American School Bus Council (ASBC) — for their support in moving forward with coordinated, positive messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our friends the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) — Blue Bird, Collins Bus, IC Bus, and Thomas Built Buses — have also been very helpful in providing information as we chart our return to school activities during the pandemic.

As you know, the Student Transportation Aligned for Return To School (STARTS) Task Force was the most visible example of industry collaboration, but everyone has pitched in in some way during these challenging times. The OEMs have provided detailed information on cleaning and sanitizing buses, which is available on the COVID-19 Resources page on the NSTA website. And, NASDPTS and NAPT have engaged with us in several advocacy efforts that have come to the forefront since the beginning of 2020. Rest assured, we will continue to have these conversations with all our partners in student transportation moving forward.

Our collective goal continues to be the safe transport of nearly 26 million schoolchildren each day. You may not realize it, but the size of the student transportation system makes it the largest public transportation system in the U.S. We are larger than planes, trains, and mass transit combined.

Unfortunately, you may not have heard about the many successful summer school programs that involved transporting students recently. Yes, we have figured out how to cope with the pandemic and still provide safe, reliable transportation to the many students who depend on us to get them to and from school each day. As we have before, we again will be there in the future.

John Benish Jr. is the president of the National School Transportation Association. -

John Benish Jr. is the president of the National School Transportation Association.

Remember, the safety record of the yellow bus speaks for itself. According to the ASBC:

“Students are about 70 times more likely to arrive to school safely if they take the school bus instead of traveling by car. With teen drivers crashing at higher rates than adults, the school bus provides a much safer alternative. Its passengers can socialize, text, and simply be children without the deadly risks involved with distracted or inexperienced driving — risks that affect everyone on the road.”

Speaking of ASBC, the council launched a public relations campaign in support of the yellow bus and school bus ridership. It was set in motion in August with the deployment of an exciting video called “Titans of Transportation.” It highlights many of the great features of the school bus, many of which are taken for granted. I urge you to share this video on your own social media platforms.

Finally, with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting many school districts’ reopening plans, ASBC also put together another video, “The Symbol of Safety," which amplifies the safety aspects of the school bus and the extraordinary measures that have been and will continue to be taken as we transport children to school and during extracurricular activities.

As we move ahead, let’s continue to highlight all the positive attributes of the yellow bus, as we educate our parents, districts, and students that pupil transportation isn’t an impediment to the return to school. We are poised for the complete return to classroom learning, and ready to do what we do best: transport students safely and efficiently, each day, every day.

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