Canyons District’s bus drivers are up before dawn, extending smiles and cheerful greetings to students as they navigate busy, sometimes slippery roads to deposit their precious cargo safely at school. They do it with little fanfare and often under difficult circumstances.
With the start of another school year, Canyons District asks patrons to be on the lookout for young children walking to schools and bus stops, and to be mindful that buses make frequent stops. The District also asks students to adhere to the District’s Bus Code of Conduct: http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/bus-rules. Together, we can keep our roadways safe.
CSD’s Transportation Department maintains 173 buses, which log more than a million miles a year transporting nearly 14,000 children. In a nine-month school year, they’ll also go on more than 3,000 field trips. The largest buses are 40 feet long and weigh 36,000 pounds. Each month, they use about $120,000 worth of diesel and compressed natural gas.
CSD does its part to keep buses safe by keeping them clean and well-maintained, and by requiring every driver to have a Commercial Driver’s License.
This past spring, Canyons District’s Transportation Department received the Utah Highway Patrol’s Safety Gold Medal. The status is a rare distinction for a District our size and a sign that CSD students are traveling on the safest buses possible.
Armed with tools, tape measures and mechanics’ dollies, a handful of UHP inspectors spent several days giving CSD’s 164 buses the once-over. Buses are examined to ensure that hazard lights, windshield wipers, defrosters, headlights, fire extinguishers and exit doors are working properly and that first aid kits are fully stocked.
Brake-pad thicknesses and tire treads are checked. Air, oil and coolant lines are scrutinized for leaks along with exhaust piping. The outside condition of the bus also factors into the final grade. It takes a lot of teamwork to achieve the coveted “Gold Medal” award, says Transportation Director Bruce Young.
Technology also plays a role. Every bus has cameras capable of monitoring what takes place on the bus. The buses are also equipped with a Zonar system, which relays information about the bus’ location, speed, engine health and exactly what time it arrived and left each bus stop in real time.
More recently, CSD also installed alarm systems to ensure all students exit the bus before the driver turns off the ignition and parks the bus. It requires drivers to walk to the back of the bus to make sure that kids aren’t hiding or asleep.