As the editors of School Transportation News reflect on the events of 2021, articles relating to driver shortages and school bus safety were among the most popular articles in STN magazine..
However, this year, three of the top 10 magazine articles reported on the importance and advancements of electric buses, a topic that has certainly flourished this year, especially as the federal government has dedicated unprecedented funding to the purchase of vehicles with zero or low emissions. .
We ended the year by recognizing Garage Stars (August), Technology Super Users (September), Rising Superstars (October) and of course STN Transportation Director of the Year (November). If you haven’t already, take the time to read up on these amazing and upcoming people.
Driver shortages continue nationwide, and school bus accidents occur for a multitude of reasons. Professionals continue to seek alternatives like electric school buses and increased wages while continuing to promote school bus safety.
We are grateful to the hard working professionals who have dedicated their time and appreciation to this industry.
The following news articles are ranked in order of popularity and indicate the date of publication and reader views, according to Google Analytics reports.
10. Garage stars: 2021 store highlights. Posted in August.
Although school buses remained parked for most of the 2020-2021 school year nationwide, the store’s unsung heroes still woke up each morning to make sure the school buses were in working order, to prepare for their return to the road. The Garage Stars, which recognized 10 maintenance professionals, included Stephanie Foster, who is in her eighth year in student transportation as a store assistant at Pell City Schools in Alabama. She is the second woman in the state to earn her school bus mechanic certificate.
9. First student, NextEra Energy Leaders discusses the electrification of buses. Published in June.
In this article, First Student announced its partnership with NextEra Energy to provide electric buses that benefit both students and the environment. NextEra Energy is the world’s largest renewable energy company. It has the capacity to deploy electric fleets, complementing First Student well since the company is an expert in student transport. By coming together, they can bring the best of both worlds, operation, safety and maintenance, as well as renewable energy.
8. The driver shortage continues despite funding promises. Published in June.
Amid the pandemic, many school districts did not need as many drivers to transport students to and from school, as classes were mostly remote or hybrid, leading to the dismissal of some. districts or businesses. However, as in-person learning resumed, many districts were facing a greater driver shortage than they already had before the start of the pandemic. Drivers quit or retired due to vaccination requirements, unequal pay and many other reasons.
7. It’s not just about compensation. Published in February.
When it comes to transportation operations, mechanics are often the key that keeps school bus operations together. In this article, a mechanic who wished to remain anonymous told STN that despite his hourly wage of $ 27, he is paid the same or less than district concierge staff. This fact does not stand still with him. While he explained that his direct supervisor values his position and fairly shares garage responsibilities, the mechanic feels his school district would first eliminate his position in response to large-scale budget cuts.
6. Essential items. Published in February.
In this article, STN received an oversight of basic personnel needs when planning new installations, which could cause the bus to miss out on operations. One of the topics that was most emphasized was the importance of access to the toilet, as staff members are often older. The article also explained how important the workplace is in terms of staff having the space to work without having to cram all together in a small office. Transportation manager Michael McClure made a plea in the article to create comfort for staff and shares the difference that comfort can make in staff morale.
5. Contemplate the benefits. Published in February.
With a new presidential administration in place and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to rage with multiple variations, school districts are facing many decisions and changes. This article focuses on some of the changes that will be made, such as updating its school bus fleet. Some school districts take several key factors into account when purchasing a new bus, primarily maintenance needs and the cost of diesel engines. Meanwhile, electric buses have certainly gained attention, with President Joe Biden showing interest in electrifying school buses across the country. School districts reluctant to embrace electric often cite the initial cost, which can be three times that of a comparable diesel bus. Manufacturers are also increasingly recommending that school districts purchase new, specially designed electric buses rather than existing vehicles.
4. Clean and safe? Published in March.
Schools continue to face disinfection of buses and facilities as they learn about the use of chemicals and discover new ventilation technologies. Amid the global pandemic and sometimes controversial public debate, some schools are reopening, while as of this writing, other districts have gone by default with distance learning and hybrid models. Transportation staff continue to clean and disinfect bus surfaces, posing some challenges, while fleet managers are considering air purification technologies as funds become available.
3. The path to success. Published in October.
This article features STN’s rising star Rick Walterscheid, who has been a lifelong commitment to serving his local community through school transportation. He often shares stories from his past and career path with his colleagues to create a spirit of camaraderie and motivate them to perform at their best. As senior director of transportation and special projects for the Texas School District, he helped purchase 280 new diesel school buses, built a state-of-the-art transportation facility, implemented a new technology and hired and retained 320 people, including 200 full-time drivers. Read about him and the other nine rising stars in October.
2. Reduce the digital divide. Published in June.
School districts are expanding the use case of Wi-Fi hotspots on school buses, even as 5G opens up the promise of even greater connectivity. As virtual learning began the 2020-2021 school year in Santa Ana, California, following the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of calls every week complaining of difficulties with virtual learning occurred. Specifically, more than 50% of calls were about poor wireless connectivity, which is essential for running courses remotely. Local entrepreneur JFK Transportation responded by sending bus drivers in school vans equipped with 5G Wi-Fi hotspots to the community. This is an example of a single district that has used the capabilities of Wi-Fi hotspots on school buses to help bridge the digital divide.
1. Alt Shift. Published in June.
Alternative fuel and energy buses are gaining popularity among private entrepreneurs, with propane retaining a strong position even as the development of electrification accelerates. As the case for electric school buses continues to grow, propane has become the alternative fuel of choice among private entrepreneurs in their campaign to reduce their collective carbon footprint on the world’s environmental future.