All Thomas Built Buses operating in Virginia now comply with a state requirement for parking brake interlocks, the OEM’s school bus dealer there said.
As reported in the August issue of School Transportation News, approximately 4,000 school buses were discovered to be lacking the specified equipment during state inspections earlier this year. Sonny Merryman, Inc. verified that half of those school buses, all Thomas Built Buses, now have the feature.
The dealer said it “took immediate action” to ensure all Thomas school buses without the interlock were ready to roll for the start of the new school year. About a dozen company field technicians installed the interlocks on 2,000 school buses at 86 school districts over a 10-week period this spring and summer.
“I can’t say enough about our service guys and the cooperation and support we received from our customers. We were faced with this challenging task during our busiest time of the year, and we got it done in time for school start,” said Floyd Merryman, president and CEO of Sonny Merryman, Inc. “We were absolutely determined to take prompt corrective action to ensure the safety of Virginia’s students and school bus drivers. All Thomas school buses currently operating in Virginia are now compliant with the parking brake interlock requirement.”
Vijay Ramnarain, the director of the office of support service at the Virginia Department of Education, told STN he is aware that school bus dealers like Sonny Merryman are in the process of equipping the vehicles with the interlocks. He added that a survey is currently out to all state school districts to provide the purchase date of each school bus in the fleet.
“This will identify the deficient buses that need to be repaired,” he explained. “Once the buses are repaired each school superintendent has to send us confirmation that the repairs have been completed.”