School Bus Fleet

August 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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30 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 BOOST EFFICIENCY 9 MAKE GOOD USE OF BUS CAPACITY The transportation department at Litchfeld Elementary School District #79 monitors the student counts on each school bus route once per week. The department develops a ridership average for each school based on actual vs. assigned ridership. "[We] use these numbers to overload our assigned count in an attempt to maintain full buses," Walker says. "We've found that we've been able to cut as many as four routes from a school using this method." Transportation directors and their head mechanics or feet supervisors should conduct thorough analyses of their parts usage, Karam says. Parts that are not "fast mov- ers" and are just taking up space should be rolled back for credit, if possible, or auctioned off. "We must ensure that the technicians' time is spent on the buses," Karam says, "and not waiting or looking for parts or consumables because the parts room is cluttered and disorganized." Removing clutter in the work bays can also boost eff- ciency and safety. "The less stuff in the work bay, the safer and more eff- cient the technician becomes," Karam says. "Not only does a cluttered work bay cause ineffciencies, but [it] could end up costing the district a lot of money due to workers comp cases should a tech get hurt in a cluttered space." At his previous district, Karam had taken on the duties of feet maintenance supervisor (in addition to his role as di- rector of transportation) because of budget cuts. He spent two years reorganizing the district's shop and parts room. "I probably removed over $50,000 in old, obsolete parts for buses that were sold 12 to 18 years ago. My goal is to reduce my parts budget and buy only what is needed at the time," Karam says. "My other goal is to train my technician staff to replace parts before they fail, again utilizing parts that are already on the shelf." 7 UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY Pace of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, recommends utilizing a combination of technol- ogies to enhance school transpor- tation effciency: • A computerized routing sys- tem to help construct effcient school bus routes. • GPS units on every bus to help optimize routing; to moni- tor idling time, driving habits that impact costs (speed, hard braking, etc.) and personal use of buses; and to validate on- the-clock work hours. "The validation of work hours is signifcant due to the fact that we are not centrally parked and the drivers do not clock in or clock out," Pace says. • Two-way radios to communi- cate bus changes and to iden- tify buses in closest proximity to routes needing coverage. "Coupled with the GPS, the dispatchers can track school buses on a large screen mon- itor to immediately dispatch the closest school bus via ra- dio to broken down buses or bus routes without an avail- able substitute," Pace says. • Fleet maintenance software that can track such items as expenditures, downtime of vehicles, adherence to main- tenance schedules, fuel us- age (miles per gallon), and re- placement criteria. 8 USE BUSES FOR DELIVERIES Brainerd (Minn.) Public Schools has enhanced effciency by using a bus to transport cargo, in addition to students. In brainstorming ways to cut costs, Trans- portation Coordinator Kala Henkensiefken and Health and Safety Coordinator Denise Sundquist realized that the delivery of interdepartmental mail and laundry to a school in Nisswa — which is about 16 miles from Brainerd — could be included on the morning and noon school bus runs to the school. This change eliminated the need to use a freight truck to make the deliveries three times per week. It saved the district nearly $6,000 and cut the environmen- tal impact of about 120 truck trips to Nisswa per year. 10 REFURBISH BUSES TO EXTEND LIFE About fve years ago, Brewster (N.Y.) Central School District decided to refur- bish buses to increase their life cycle. A new replacement plan was developed based on running buses for 18 years (although some make it to 20 years) and buying fve to six new buses per year. The district has a feet of 106 buses. Jack Coxen, Brewster's supervisor of trans- portation, shares details on the plan: • The body refurbishment schedule calls for one or two buses per month in a body shop. • The budget for refurbishment is estimated at $25,000 to $40,000 per year. • A key consideration in refurbishment is whether the repair will give the dis- trict three to fve more years with the bus. Transportation Coordinator Kala Henkensiefken and a colleague at Brain- erd Public Schools came up with an innovative way to re- duce delivery costs. Brewster Central School District developed a refurbishment plan to extend bus life to about 18 years.

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