School Bus Fleet

August 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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26 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 2 DECREASE DEADHEAD At the Mason County Transportation Cooperative in Shelton, Washington, a shuttle program for drivers has increased ef- fciency by cutting down on deadhead — in other words, miles driven without children on the bus. "We have schools that are not very close to our bus compound, and so we leave the buses out there at the schools during the day and one bus shuttles the drivers back here to their cars," explains Sandi Thompson, di- rector of transportation for the co-op, which serves three school districts. "We used to have all of the buses return in the morning and then go back out to get the students in the afternoon." In the past few years, since the shuttle program was implemented, the co-op has achieved signifcant savings in fuel and wear and tear on the buses. Virginia Beach (Va.) City Public Schools has also signifcantly reduced deadhead miles through routing construction and design. "We assign routes to drivers in the closest proximity to their parking locations and pair them with other schools in the tier structure that ensures lower [deadhead] mileage," says David Pace, director of transportation ser- vices. "Since we do not centrally park school buses, this design is effective and workable." From the bus routes to the shop to the transportation offce, there are numerous opportunities to enhance effciency. Here, directors share innovative ways to run a more cost-effective operation. BY THOMAS MCMAHON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR Photo courtesy Denver Public Schools Tips to Boost Effciency 15 1 TAP INTO THE BENEFITS OF OIL ANALYSIS At Cassadaga Valley Central School District in Sinclairville, New York, engine oil analysis has benefted the operation in two key ways: First, it has decreased oil change intervals feet-wide by about 50%. "When you consider how much oil a bus holds and then fg- ure [in the cost of] the oil flter as well, it can be a large savings," says Bob Gilkinson, who implemented an oil analysis program af- ter he became Cassadaga's transportation supervisor about three years ago. The second key beneft of oil analysis is that it provides an oppor- tunity to discover any issues with oil contamination. "We have had several buses where we have found coolant in the engine oil that was not visible to the eye but showed up on the anal- ysis," says Gilkinson, who is a former heavy equipment mechanic. "These buses were still under warranty, so there was a huge sav- ings in repair costs that did not have to be taken on by the district." Cassadaga's oil analysis has also identifed fuel in the oil, which, again, couldn't be seen by the naked eye. "In every case that we have found an issue with one of our bus- es, it has avoided a major breakdown and very costly repairs that would have otherwise gone undetected until it was possibly too late and caused major engine damage," Gilkinson says.

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