School Bus Fleet

September 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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36 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 4 A ccording to the American School Bus Council, 480,000 school bus- es carry approximately 25 million children to and from school each day, with the average school bus logging 12,000 miles a year. As the price of buses, fuel and insurance continues to increase, so does the cost of pro- viding this service. As a result, feet manag- ers fnd themselves in stiff competition with other support services in and out of the class- room as they look for dollars to support their feets. Many school districts are choosing to hold onto their buses longer to meet tight bud- gets. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than half of to- day's school buses have been in service for more than 10 years. It makes sense, then, that more attention is being paid to caring for and maintaining buses to extend their useful life — everything from preventive maintenance schedules and daily trip inspections to ex- amining seats for signs of wear. There is no doubt that school bus seats take a beating, and often they show it. In many cases, the damage is intentional, with vandalism identifed as the No. 1 reason for damage to seat covers. But wear, too, makes a signifcant contri- bution to seat damage, with the seat back of- ten showing signs of stress before the seat cushion. That's because children tend to grab the back of the seat in front of them as they get up, putting extra stress on the cover and the foam underneath. As the seat cov- er wears, the vinyl begins to crack and fake away (or be picked away by little fngers), exposing the cloth underneath. The extent of wear damage varies accord- ing to a variety of factors. For example, the number of students, their ages and their size can infuence the degree of wear. So can the number of runs a bus makes in a defned pe- riod of time and the number of days per year a bus is in service. Regular cleaning and inspections of school bus seat covers can increase their life expectancy while easing tight budgets and helping to ensure children's safety. Here's guidance on how to maintain the seat covers — and when they should be replaced. BY TONY EVERETT 6 Tips for School Bus Seat Cover Care and Replacement

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