School Bus Fleet

August 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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28 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 6 CUT CLUTTER, ORGANIZE THE SHOP Al Karam, director of transportation at Shenendehowa Central Schools in Clif- ton Park, New York, says one area that often doesn't get enough attention when looking at effciency is the school bus shop. With that in mind, he recom- mends focusing on the organization and effciencies of two critical areas: the parts room and the work bays. To cut down on the amount of time it takes to locate a specifc part, Karam says there should be a process in place that ad- dresses the following: 1. Location of parts 2. Reorder points 3. Organized layout 4. Proper inventory control and reconciliation "Further, in most school districts that maintain their own feets, the practice is to purchase parts and have them on the shelf just in case they are needed," Karam says. "This thought process is old and ar- chaic. Most parts can be had [on the] same day or at least within 72 hours or earlier if you want to pay a modest fee for overnight delivery." 3 REDUCE ROAD CALLS WITH SAND Green Bay, Wisconsin- based Lamers Bus Lines has a number of routes that cover re- mote areas and sometimes re- quire driving into driveways and farm yards to turn around. When there's snow and ice on the ground, school buses are of- ten susceptible to getting stuck in those types of rural locations. To get buses unstuck while avoiding the time and cost of road calls, Lamers provides repurposed coffee containers flled with sand for the buses that travel these challenging routes. "It [was] a hard winter in Wisconsin, and on one morn- ing alone these saved us from chasing three buses," says Cindi Lawler, school bus op- erations manager at Lamers. "These were drivers that called in stuck. We asked them if they used the sand, they gave it a try, and they were out and mov- ing, saving us a major delay on the route. It would have been a 30-minute drive just to get to their area." The sand-flled containers also come in handy for lift- equipped buses. In icy condi- tions, these drivers can create a sand path down the side of the bus and around the lift to secure their footing as they de- ploy the lift and load the wheel- chair. The sand-flled coffee con- tainers are "a simple little thing that has paid us large divi- dends," Lawler says. 4 FIND EFFICIENCIES IN FUELING To eliminate the issue of buses getting backed up at fuel pumps — and drivers getting paid to wait in those lines — Litchfeld Elementary School District #79 in Litchfeld Park, Arizona, created a program called the Fuel Crew. Student transporters (the district's title for school bus drivers) add their bus to a list by 9 a.m. on the mornings their bus needs fuel. Then a four-person team fuels the buses on the list. Walker says that the team usually completes the task in less than an hour. "The student transporters enjoy not having to fuel their buses," Director of Trans- portation Jeff Walker says, adding that "gossip has also decreased since employees don't have idle time at the fuel pumps." In addition to the fuel crew, Litchfeld specs 100-gallon fuel tanks on its general- education buses, which reduces the frequency with which they need to be refueled. At Lamers Bus Lines, coffee containers flled with sand help drivers if their buses get stuck in snow and ice, avoiding road calls. 5 ENHANCE HIRING EFFICIENCY Computerized forms can make the hiring process more effcient. "Too often, there are numerous forms [for applicants] to fll out, and it takes a lot of time to get it done," says Jeff Vrabel Sr., operations manager at Transit Service Inc., which serves special-needs students in Ohio's Mahoning and Trumbull counties. "I have computerized my forms and have them almost completely flled out when the applicant comes in for the interview. In doing so, I become familiar with the applicant before we have the interview." The "infopak," as Vrabel calls it, includes a questionnaire that Vrabel sends to the references listed on the application. He says that he includes an envelope and gets more than 95% of them back. "The applicants seem to like it, too, because they don't have to write their name and address so many times," Vrabel says. "In ad- dition, now all the information that HR needs can be presented in a simple packet that has all the required information. [It is] much easier to copy for those who need it." Download a sample form from Transit Service Inc. at Schoolbus feet.com/resources/Infopak-Sample.pdf. Jeff Vrabel Sr., operations manager at Transit Service Inc., has comput- erized forms to save time in the hiring process. Removing clutter in school bus work bays can help in boosting effciency and the safety of staff members. BOOST EFFICIENCY

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