Maintenance

Web Resources

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides usefual data to help school transportation operators track recent recalls and compliance tests for certain vehicles and related components to keep school buses operating in the best shape possible. These links are below as are links to bus testing facilities and labs

NHTSA Technical Service Bulletin Database: Using a "drill down" search method, users may select the type of search (child seats, tires, equipment, or vehicles) then choose a year from the drop-down list. The query returns a list of Makes for a chosen type and year, etc. Includes Technical Service Bulletins for some school bus models.

NHTSA Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance: This database allows users to search for vehicles that have been compliance tested to federal motor vehicle safety standards. Uses a "drill down" search method to identify for FVMSS, or by year, make and model. Includes several school bus brands.

NHTSA Recall Campaigns Database: Using a "drill down" search method, users may select the type of search (vehicle, child seats, tires, or equipment) then choose a year from the drop-down list. The query returns a list of Makes for a chosen type and year, etc. Includes some school bus models. Identifies number of units recalled, NHTSA Campaign ID number and component that was recalled.

Bus and Component Testing

The Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

Altoona Research and Bus Testing Center

Federal Transit Administration Bus Testing

49 CFR 665 Regulation Relating to Federal Bus Testing [pdf]

University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Virginia Tech Transportation Research Institute

Reports

Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products Part 2: LED Manufacturing and Performance
U.S. Department of Energy Pacific Northwest
Study of the environmental effects of LED manufacturing and usage. The report claimed that LEDs are "substantially more environmentally friendly" than incandescent lights and consume five times less electricity.

Manuals

School Bus Preventative Maintenance: Instruction Manual for School Bus Fleets (2nd Edition)
By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Rush Truck Center of Salt Lake City
An overview of the manual that covers such topics as: basic procedures, creating a PM schedule, PM intervals, annual PM, training the technician, documenting processes, and analyzing data.

 

Preventative Maintenance Inspections

Perhaps the most important safety aspect that school districts and school bus companies can provide students is ensuring that the nation's 480,000 school buses that are in regular service nationwide remain in top operating condition. This requires a tried and true preventative maintenance schedule.

So what exactly is preventative maintenance?

We all have preventative maintenance performed on our personal automobiles. Many of us take our car into a quick oil change shop somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 miles and wait while they change the oil and filter, lube the steering and suspension (if you have grease zerks), air the tires, vacuum the inside, check the transmission, power steering, anti-freeze, and washer fluid levels, and charge us if they add even a capful of fluid. They will check the belt, and pull the air filter in hopes you will need one at a huge mark up. Unless something goes wrong, this is the normal PM schedule for most cars on the road today.

Trucking companies are far more sophisticated.  A breakdown in another part of the Country can cost them thousands of dollars. They often study the life of various components and change them before they fail, preventing a breakdown. The school bus industry runs something between the automobile and the over the road trucking companies. School bus technicians try to find potential problems before they turn into costly repairs that remove the vehicle from service for extended periods of time. There are a number of ways we do this.  The daily pre-trip inspection performed by the driver is the most common. The scheduled services or inspection performed by the mechanics is another. Most states have an annual inspection requirement, which may be performed by a state official.

Preventative maintenance is the key to a safe fleet and an economically operated fleet. School buses must be inspected on a scheduled basis by a qualified mechanic. Lubrication is necessary to extend wear points. The amount of wear in many areas can be measured.  Replacement of component parts can be done before failure occurs.

There is no universal PM schedule. Manufacturers recommend a schedule for their vehicles. States often mandate schedules, and each fleet develops a schedule that they believe is best for them.  Some are based on days, miles, or hours of operation. No matter, these schedules should be continuously reviewed. Determining factors that some schedules may  not be ideal can start by looking at the number and type of vehicle breakdowns. For example, if an operation is making service calls for items that could be found during normal PM inspections may indicate that the schedule should be shortened.

 

NHTSA Calls Hearing Regarding U.S. Bus Recalls

usbus

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a notice of public hearing today on the Federal Register to determine why TCI has neither remedied 15 vehicle safety recalls vehicles manufactured by the old U.S. Bus nor notified bus owners, purchases and dealers of fixes under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

NTSB Publishes Recommendations to Thwart Braking Mistakes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board published its Sept. 1 report and recommendations on avoiding brake pedal misapplication in commercial vehicles including one that urges school districts to use recent crash investigations to re-evaluate student loading and unloading procedures.

Emission Standards: USA

Maintenance

resources_maintenance

Just as important to the safety of school buses is the maintenance than keeps these vehicles in tip-top operating condition. With state budgets increasingly being hurt by current economic situations, proper maintenance schedules can quickly identify and fix vehicle maintenance issues is of paramount concern for both school districts and private bus companies. Vital to this is the school bus inspection program, not only by drivers to make sure the school bus is ready to pick up and drop off children but to report potential problems to the maintenance staff. An ongoing training is a must.

This section contains information on why school bus maintenance is important and provides links to organizations that can help school bus operators increase their knowledge.

Check back frequently as STN will be adding more content to help school bus operators understand how they can benefit from maintenance programs.