Poland transportation department continues to focus on safety with 2 new buses
Two new school buses with enhanced safety features, that Poland Central School District voters approved in May during the budget vote, will be operational starting with the 2023-24 school year.
Each bus holds 65 passengers and were purchased for a total of $329,780 to replace aging buses.
Each new bus has a backup camera to watch for people and objects directly behind the bus when driving the bus in reverse. In addition to backing out of a garage or parking spot, all routes have turnarounds where the cameras will be used.
When activated, the camera image is displayed in a portion of the rearview mirror.
Transportation director Eric Taylor said drivers have used and will continue to use mirrors first and the new cameras will only increase safety.
Caption: The backup camera image in the rearview mirror (top) and a look at the camera on the back of the bus (bottom)
PCS has 20 vehicles in the transportation department. The new buses will be numbers 153 and 154.
The new buses will also have lighted stop signs, reflective strips and new block lettering of the district name – all for better visibility.
Caption: The new stop signs (top) and a look at the side of the bus (bottom)
A new light inside the bus is also part of the safety features. There is a red light above the driver, which increases the visibility of the driver to crossing students when stopped and decreases the brightness for the driver.
Caption: The new light inside the bus near the driver.
No bus will be on the road without passing a New York State Department of Transportation inspection, which takes place every six months. School districts must have a minimum rating of 90%. The Poland Central School District’s rating is more than 94%.
After the district receives the buses from the dealer, in addition to a state inspection, the district’s bus mechanic Larry Shepard inspects the buses and notes any defects to the dealer so they can be fixed.
On the back and front of the buses, the words “school bus” are also more visible thanks to increased lighting.
Caption: A wide view of the back of the bus (top) and a closer view (bottom).
The Poland Central School district is one of the largest school districts in the state in terms of square miles, covering more than 477 square miles.
With so much ground to cover, the wear and tear can take a toll on the buses. The PCS transportation staff keep a rigorous maintenance schedule to keep the vehicles in working order based on miles and days in service.
The smaller vans are on a seven-year replacement plan and the full-size buses are on a 10-year replacement plan. In addition to keeping students safe, this helps keep maintenance costs low.
PCS has 16 drivers to drive students to and from school, athletic events and field trips. There are more vehicles than drivers to make sure there are always spare vehicles available if needed.
Over the summer, the buses are also regularly driven on shorter routes to make sure the buses remain in the best shape they can be.
“The PCS transportation staff is committed to the safety of our students. They take great pride in their work because they know it is important. They care about students, and I am appreciative of everything they do,” said Poland Central School District Superintendent Laura Dutton. “I also thank our voters for approving the budget so the district could purchase the buses.”
“Our staff are usually the first and last interactions most of our students have with the district every school day. We want to make sure the students, drivers and staff are confident in their safety when they are aboard one of our buses., “said Transportation Director Eric Taylor.
National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 16-20, 2023. It is a week that brings more awareness of the importance of school bus safety for everyone.
There will be bus evacuation drills for students at three points during the 2023-24 school year:
Sept. 13 and 14
Nov. 29 and 30
March 20 and 21
The PCS transportation staff includes:
Cindy Appel, driver
Pauline Claflin, driver
Mark Crossman, driver
Candice Davis, monitor
Heidi Fenton, driver
Cary Hines, driver
April Hubbard, driver
Marc LaSalle, monitor
Sandra LaSalle, driver
Gerard Lindsay, monitor
Douglas Medley, driver
Connie Rachon, driver
Diane Rowlands, driver
Larry Shepard, mechanic
Robin Tabor, driver
Eric Taylor, director
Patricia Walker-Kolb, driver