In 2012, bullying was again in the limelight as video of a school bus monitor being harassed went viral. Also, the U.S. pupil transportation community made connections abroad to help other countries safely transport their students.
1. Bus monitor Karen Klein gets bullied, makes $700K
When was the last time a school bus monitor became a household name?
Karen Klein of Greece (N.Y.) Central School District made headlines across the globe after a video of her being harassed by students on her bus in June went viral.
Klein then received an outpouring of support, with a fundraising effort that was set up for her ultimately raising more than $700,000.
Klein used $100,000 of those funds to start a foundation aimed at stopping bullying
. The Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation launched a music tour called the No Bully Tour 2012 to raise money for anti-bullying counseling in schools.
Klein, who before becoming a monitor drove a school bus for 20 years, retired from her district position, although she said that the move was not because of the harassment she endured by the students on the bus.
As for the four students who participated in the taunting, their families agreed to one-year suspensions from school
and from regular bus transportation for the students after meeting with school and district administrators.
2. School bus industry sees opportunities abroad
With foreign nations looking to the U.S. for guidance in pupil transportation, industry associations and manufacturers made key connections abroad in 2012.
In China, a government initiative to improve safety was spurred by two major school transportation accidents in late 2011, each of which killed more than a dozen students. The country’s State Council adopted a bevy of new regulations
on the transportation of students.
In February, executives from Blue Bird Corp. attended the China International School Bus Development Forum and Exhibition
and displayed the company’s Vision school bus. Blue Bird also exhibited at the China Bus, Truck and Component Expo in May.
Navistar, parent company of IC Bus, announced in April
that it would develop and distribute school buses in China under a new agreement with Chinese truck maker JAC.
In the Middle East, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority tapped the expertise of the National Association for Pupil Transportation
to promote school bus safety in the Emirate and beyond.
The two organizations announced in July that they were entering into a formal partnership to share information and experiences, and they will cohost a school transportation summit in spring 2013 in Dubai.
3. EPA offers $2M in rebates for school bus replacement
The U.S. EPA launched its first-ever rebate program with a pilot focusing specifically on replacing older diesel school buses.
School districts and contractors are among those eligible for the program, which will provide rebates ranging from $20,000 to $30,000.
The EPA said that when the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act was reauthorized in January 2011, “a significant change in the reauthorization provided EPA with the authority to award rebates.”
For the inaugural school bus replacement program, $2 million was reserved.
Applicants were required to be a regional, state, local or tribal agency; school district; municipality; or private company operating school buses.
The EPA announced
that it would collect applications for the program from Nov. 13 to Dec. 14.
4. Iowa targets illegal bus passing with ‘Kadyn’s Law’
In March, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed “Kadyn’s Law”
— legislation that increases the penalties for motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.
The bill, which took effect immediately, was named after 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was struck and killed by a pickup truck in 2011 as she was walking across a road to board her school bus.
Under the legislation, drivers face a fine of up to $675 and up to 30 days in jail for a first bus-passing violation. Previously, the penalty was $200 with no possibility of jail time.
Motorists face stiffer penalties if they cause a serious injury or death in a bus-passing incident.
Kadyn’s Law also called for
the state Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Education to jointly conduct a study related to school bus safety, and to establish educational programs to help increase public awareness of motor vehicle laws and safe driving behaviors around school buses.
5. Thomas Built to develop CNG-fueled Type C
Thomas Built Buses announced in October
that it will develop a compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus.
The company plans to utilize the Cummins Westport ISB6.7 G, a mid-range 6.7 liter natural gas engine, currently in development and expected to be available in 2015.
Thomas’ green vehicle lineup also includes the Saf-T-Liner C2e diesel-electric hybrid, propane-fueled Minotour and Saf-T-Liner HDX CNG models. A propane-fueled offering of the Saf-T-Liner C2 bus is expected to be available in 2013.
Thomas Built launched its Type D rear-engine Saf-T-Liner HDX school bus with CNG in 1992. Since then, the company has put more than 1,300 HDX CNG buses on the road and has seen demand increase in the last five years. The Thomas Built HDX CNG school bus releases up to 20% less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel engines, company officials said.
6. Collins unveils new Type A bus design
In the spring, Collins Bus Corp. announced
that it had launched a complete redesign of its Type A bus with added visibility and enhanced construction.
Company officials said that the new bus, unveiled at a dealer meeting, represents a culmination of several years of research and development based on input from a wide range of customers, dealers and employees.
Marketed under the model designator NEXBUS, it is offered throughout North America under all three Collins Bus Corp. brands: Collins, Mid Bus and Corbeil.
Company officials said that new features include a unique battery and storage drawer, over 30% added visibility through the view-out window in the transition section, superior construction and larger passenger windows. The buses come standard with SafeGuard XChange seating systems.
The new design underwent durability testing that simulated seven years/200,000 miles of use at the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pa.
7. Blue Bird reveals redesigned Type Ds
In October, Blue Bird unveiled
its 2014 All American forward-engine and rear-engine school buses.
Blue Bird officials said that the All Americans were redesigned with students, drivers, service technicians and transportation directors in mind, and they include a significant number of new features requested by customers.
Company officials said that features include superior fuel efficiency, turning radius, driver visibility and paint warranty. Also on board are a new passenger window design with “ultra-smooth operation” and enhanced serviceability.
The All Americans meet the Colorado racking rollover specification in their standard configuration, rather than as an option, which Blue Bird said highlights the strength of the core All American bus design. The cockpit was redesigned to comfortably fit virtually any body size.
The new All Americans also share many body parts with the Blue Bird Vision, resulting in a reduction in parts and service complexity.
8. Crossing arms mandated on new school buses in Minn.
All Minnesota school buses built after Jan. 1, 2013, will have to be equipped with crossing arms.
State legislation signed into law in spring 2012
mandates the devices, which extend automatically from the right side of the front bumper to deter kids from crossing too close to the bus.
The mandate will only apply to new school buses — existing buses that don’t have crossing arms won’t have to be retrofitted.
The bill was spurred at least in part by a fatal accident in 2010. Six-year-old Evan Lindquist was struck and killed by his school bus as he was crossing in front.
— Thomas McMahon, executive editor
| posted on Friday, December 14, 2012 10:03 AM