Ready for 60 More Years

James Blue
Posted on September 20, 2016
The magazine debuted in 1956 as School Bus Trends. On the cover of the first issue was the current Miss America, Sharon Kay Ritchie, perched on a 1956 Wayne Superamic.
The magazine debuted in 1956 as School Bus Trends. On the cover of the first issue was the current Miss America, Sharon Kay Ritchie, perched on a 1956 Wayne Superamic.

It’s a busy year for anniversaries in the pupil transportation industry.

School Bus Fleet turns 60 this year — a remarkable achievement for any magazine — but that’s only one of the noteworthy milestones in 2016.

Perhaps most notable is the 100th anniversary of Thomas Built Buses. The High Point, North Carolina-based company that Perley A. Thomas launched in 1916, initially as a streetcar manufacturer, has endured through many changes in the industry and continues to innovate with new developments for its yellow buses. If you haven’t already, be sure to read our feature on the history of Thomas Built Buses in our April/May 2016 issue.

Meanwhile, up in Quebec, Micro Bird is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Over the past half century, the Type A manufacturer has introduced numerous small bus innovations that offer increased safety and durability compared to van bodies. You can read more about Micro Bird’s history in our June issue.

In this issue, we highlight another interesting milestone: Wisconsin-based school bus contractor Lamers Bus Lines has been buying Blue Bird buses for 50 years now. Read more about this partnership, and the Lamers operation in general.

Here are a few more significant anniversaries that have come to our attention this year:

• With its 50th anniversary, Virginia school bus dealer Sonny Merryman Inc. launched a new Hampton Roads bus service center that features 37,000 square feet of office space, maintenance facilities with 12 full-size service bays, parts warehousing, and a body repair shop.
• In June, the Pennsylvania School Bus Association celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition.
• Unity School Bus Parts marked 30 years in business with the opening of a new warehouse facility in Clinton Township, Michigan.
If your company has also reached a major milestone this year, let us know about it. Send an email to

As for School Bus Fleet’s own 60th anniversary, it’s a good time to reflect on where we came from and where we’re headed.

The magazine debuted in 1956 as School Bus Trends, then produced by Hitchcock Publishing. On the cover of the first issue was the current Miss America, Sharon Kay Ritchie, perched on a 1956 Wayne Superamic school bus. Five years later, Hitchcock changed the name of the publication to School Bus Transportation.

Then, after Bobit Publishing (now Bobit Business Media) acquired the magazine, it relaunched in 1965 as School Bus Fleet with a new look and vision. That vision, initially led by company founder Ed Bobit and carried on over the decades by many dedicated staff members, has brought us to today — with our outlook as bright as ever.

James Blue is general manager of School Bus Fleet.
James Blue is general manager of School Bus Fleet.

Now, in addition to the monthly print magazine, we produce an information-packed website, four email newsletters, web seminars, and (with our partners at the National Association for Pupil Transportation) the annual School Bus eXchange event. We’ve certainly come a long way.

At the beginning of this year, we unveiled a major redesign of the School Bus Fleet brand, with a new logo, a new look for the magazine, and a new website. These changes have helped reinvigorate us in our mission, which has not changed: providing our readers with essential information to help them safely transport students.

As School Bus Fleet drives forward into the next 60 years of our history, we’re glad to have all of you along for the ride.

Related Topics: Blue Bird, Micro Bird Inc., Thomas Built Buses

James Blue General Manager
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