Aaron Silverman (right) of ABC Transit in Pennsylvania was selected as  School Bus Fleet' s Contractor of the Year for 2023. The magazine also released its list of top contractor fleets.  -  Photo: ABC Transit

Aaron Silverman (right) of ABC Transit in Pennsylvania was selected as School Bus Fleet's Contractor of the Year for 2023. The magazine also released its list of top contractor fleets.

Photo: ABC Transit

In 2023, School Bus Fleet spotlighted significant stories that resonated within the school transportation sector.

Notable among these was the introduction of our SBF Trailblazers, recognizing accomplished professionals in the field under the age of 40. This inaugural selection shed light on the contributions of young leaders shaping the industry's future.

Also, the magazine tackled practical issues such as pre- and post-trip inspections, effective strategies for managing student behavior on buses, and the impact of new federal funding on the adoption of electric school buses.

Here are some of the top features, news stories, and episodes of The Route from 2023. Their ranking is based on Google Analytics tracked over the past year.

Features Highlighting the Evolving School Fleet

  • SBF Trailblazers: Invigorating the School Transportation Industry: Demographically, the pupil transportation industry has skewed toward the older generation. But it’s clear that the younger generations are responsible for carrying the industry forward into the future. In 2023, we had the chance to introduce readers to many under-40 professionals positioned to shape the destiny of school transportation.
  • What to Keep in Mind During Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections: One of our most popular features this year came from Associate Editor Christy Grimes, in which she shared the importance of inspecting school buses before and after those routes are run. It included insights from Ralph Walker, a bus technician and substitute driver in Iowa.
  • Preparing for the Unexpected on the Big Yellow School Bus: Ten years after the hijacking of an Alabama school bus, we’re still seeing more incidents of unwanted visitors barging their way onto buses with violent intent, whether it’s trying to strike the bus driver or attack a student.
  • School Bus Fleet’s Top Contractors of 2023: In case you missed it, back in May we published the latest list of the top contractor fleets. The top five included First Student, National Express, Student Transportation of America, Beacon Mobility, and North America Central School Bus. If you run a school transportation contractor fleet, watch for the next survey from School Bus Fleet in spring 2024.
  • 11 Strategies for Managing Student Behavior on the School Bus: One of the perpetual concerns for school bus drivers, besides the chronic issue of illegal passing of stopped school buses, is how their young passengers sometimes behave during their routes. This feature explored some methods of creating a safe and harmonious environment on the bus.

News from the School Transportation World

Justina Morosin, vice president and general manager of IC Bus, talked about the refreshed design - and the manufacturer's refreshed outlook.  -  Photo: Wes Platt

Justina Morosin, vice president and general manager of IC Bus, talked about the refreshed design - and the manufacturer's refreshed outlook.

Photo: Wes Platt

  • Alabama Student Hit, Killed While Walking Up to School Bus: A 31-year-old driving a Nissan pickup truck left the road and struck Carmen Lopez, 15, as she approached a waiting school bus with her siblings. According to CBS42, Tyler Gillilan, the driver of the truck, was driving too fast for conditions and was blinded by sun glare as he neared the bus stop.
  • IC Bus Relaunches Flagship CE Series School Bus with Diesel, Electric Power Trains: The well-known IC Bus CE Series school bus, first launched 20 years ago, rolled out with a new look and some fresh features for driver comfort, operational efficiency, and added safety.
  • Familiar Face Returns to Guide Blue Bird Onward: In May, after a two-year hiatus spent on Blue Bird’s board of directors, Phil Horlock stepped back into the role of president and CEO of the school bus manufacturer. Weeks later, SBF reported that Britton Smith, who had been leading the company’s electric vehicle strategy, would take on the title of president while Horlock remained CEO.
  • NSTA Cheers Illegal Passing Act’s Introduction to Congress: Carrying on in the memory of the late Jackie Walorski, U.S. representatives Rudy Yakym (Indiana) and Julia Brownley (California) introduced House Bill 3998, the Enhancing Necessary Data (END) Illegal Passing Act. The legislation calls for establishing a federal program top monitor and gather data about illegal passing of stopped school buses, to develop safety messaging, and training materials. The National School Transportation Association welcomed the introduction of the bill. However, Congress has done nothing with it as of this writing.
  • EPA Launches $400M Clean School Bus Grant Program: The Environmental Protection Agency continued its efforts to jumpstart electrification of school bus fleets across the country with a new grant program and, this fall, a second round of rebate funding. The deadline for grants was in August, but school districts, manufacturers, and contractors have until January to apply for rebate opportunities.
Phil Horlock returned to Blue Bird as CEO in 2023.  -  Photo: Blue Bird Corporation

Phil Horlock returned to Blue Bird as CEO in 2023.

Photo: Blue Bird Corporation

The Route's Electric Vehicle Coverage Dominates

Our School Bus Fleet content series, featured on our YouTube channel, got the most attention for episodes related to coverage of electric school buses. Check out the top episodes, in case you missed them!

Bridging EV Gaps: This episode included an interview with Geo Murickan and Scott Bradley of Pioneer Power Solutions, as well as a rundown of GreenPower’s electric school bus pilot programs in West Virginia, EverDriven’s report about student transportation, and the acquisition of Safety Bus by First Student.

EV Acceleration and Administrator of the Year: This episode featured an interview with Karim Johnson, School Bus Fleet’s Administrator of the Year. He has since moved on to lead the transportation department at a school district in Virginia. The episode also paid tribute to the late Dr. Cal LeMon, discussed the EPA’s proposal for new school bus emissions standards, and shared information about EV battery safety.

Full Stop for School Bus Safety?: In this episode, we had an interview with Mike Martin, former executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) who now serves as a consultant for alternative transportation provider HopSkipDrive. In October, Martin was inducted into NAPT’s Hall of Fame. It also covers the new federal automatic emergency braking standard and puts a spotlight on our School Bus Fleet Contractor of the Year, Aaron Silverman of ABC Transit in Pennsylvania.

EV Education: This episode included an interview with Curt Macysyn, executive director of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), and shared information about pilot studies in three school districts trying to electrify their bus fleets with help from the World Resources Institute and the Center for Transportation and the Environment.

School Bus Summer: In this episode of The Route, we had an interview with Chad Duncan about the new IC Bus CE Series, and discussed the NSTA’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Proterra’s bankruptcy, and the winners of School Bus Fleet’s annual photography contest.

About the author
Wes Platt

Wes Platt

Executive Editor

Wes Platt joined Bobit in 2021 as executive editor of School Bus Fleet Magazine. He writes and edits content about student transportation, school bus manufacturers and equipment, legislative issues, maintenance, fleet contracting, and school transportation technology - from classic yellow diesel buses to the latest EPA-funded electric, propane, and CNG vehicles.

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