School Bus Contractors

Michael Wagner Named School Bus Fleet’s Contractor of the Year

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on July 24, 2019
Michael Wagner, SBF's Contractor of the Year (center), is shown here with NSTA past president Blake Krapf (left), and SBF Associate Publisher Mark Hollenbeck.
Michael Wagner, SBF's Contractor of the Year (center), is shown here with NSTA past president Blake Krapf (left), and SBF Associate Publisher Mark Hollenbeck.

Michael Wagner began working as an educator in the Chicagoland area, first as a special-education teacher, and eventually becoming Dean of Students. After several years, he made the move to pupil transportation, taking a job at Cook-Illinois Corp. in 1978 and working his way up from general manager to senior executive vice president.

Ever since, Wagner has worked tirelessly to help improve transportation for students, especially those with special needs. He embarked upon this lifelong endeavor at a time when few, if any, standards for transporting special-needs students existed.

Most notably, early on in his career in pupil transportation, he helped develop the first national standard for transportation of students with wheelchairs, and was instrumental in starting an annual conference on transporting special-needs students.

Wagner has also been a champion for small school bus companies. His colleagues commend him for helping them to grow their businesses, make connections, and build relationships. One associate, Donald Fowler, president of Fowler Bus Co., in Richmond, Mo., described him as “always in the background helping people, giving advice, and never taking credit.”

Wagner has continued to help others in the industry as he has expanded his own company. After joining Lakeview Bus Lines in 2007, he has helped to grow the operation from 40 buses to the 250 it runs today, transporting more than 5,000 students daily.

Lakeview Bus Lines also boasts a nearly 90% driver retention rate. This could be due to the fact that Wagner puts a premium on creating a supportive work environment, and even gets behind the wheel himself when necessary.  

Going beyond his efforts at work, Wagner has also committed to helping people with disabilities. He has served on several local, state, and national boards, as well as the board of directors for the United Cerebral Palsy Association, and regularly donates to the Special Olympics.

For his dedication to safe student transportation, special-needs students in particular, and always being willing to lend a hand to a small school bus business, SBF named Michael Wagner its 2019 Contractor of the Year. SBF Associate Publisher Mark Hollenbeck presented the award at the National School Transportation Association’s annual meeting in Austin, Tex., on Tuesday.

A profile of Wagner and Lakeview Bus Lines will appear in SBF’s September issue.

Related Topics: Illinois, NSTA, SBF Contractor of the Year, special needs

Nicole Schlosser Executive Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Linda Slemp

     | about 17 days ago

    Congratulations Mike. Always a pleasure to work with you.

More Stories
School Bus Fleet ConneX (SBFX) will convene in Scottsdale, Ariz., from April 22 to 24, 2020. Shown here is a roundtable discussion at the inaugural edition of SBFX, which was held in Miami, Fla., in April 2019.
News

School Bus Fleet ConneX to Return in 2020

Next year’s event will bring school bus operators and suppliers to Scottsdale, Ariz., for roundtable discussions, one-on-one meetings, and other networking activities.

Dennis Maple, First Student’s president, is leaving the company for a position outside of the organization. Paul Osland, First Student’s chief operating officer, will serve as interim president.
News

Top Leadership Change at First Student

Dennis Maple, the school bus company's president, will leave the company in August. Paul Osland, First Student’s chief operating officer, will serve as interim president.

John Polli, president and CEO of Reliance Student Transportation, says the company values efficient employee training and driver recruitment.
Article

School Bus Contractor Driven to Boost Safety, Training

From purchasing and operating one school bus company to later establishing another from the ground up, Reliance Student Transportation President and CEO John Polli has proven his dedication and commitment to the school bus industry.

Family-run Villani Bus Co. has grown by leaps and bounds over the last century, now transporting over 7,500 students every day. Shown here is Courtney Villani, president, with her son, Diodato.
News

New Jersey Bus Company Marks 100 Years

Run by three generations over the course of the last century, Villani Bus Co. now serves dozens of school districts and transports over 7,500 students every day.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!