Last week, I was speaking with an out-of-state transportation director in Indiana, and although I contacted him regarding an article, we started talking about the weather.
So I asked him if all of his buses were plugged in, since this cold is not common for them. It’s not that common here, either, where it is -19 degrees at the moment.
He said that he only has several older Thomas buses that plug-in, because with the new Cummins technology, there isn’t the need to plug them in like the old diesels.
This makes things much easier in many ways. There was the need for extension cords and poles with electrical outlets all along the bus parking islands. Drivers who don’t unplug the buses and back out of spots—yanking the cord out (did they check out their bus— NO!). Less work for mechanics going out with the shop truck and jumping reluctant buses to life in horrible weather.
Many school districts don’t have pre-heaters like Webasto—like here in Ithaca, New York. Some small districts can have enough inside parking, but big districts don’t, and drivers have to wade through snow in-between buses to get them started.
Likewise, it isn’t safe to have kids waiting in sub-zero temps if school isn’t closed. Many schools don’t have parent apps! AND—a lot of drivers, teachers and staff, might not have cars that start, either. Is it worth having school in these extreme conditions and putting everyone at risk?
Personally, if it is this cold, or there is a lot of snow, it’s just as easy to have school on a nice day in May or June. School buses that are constantly stopping can cause other vehicles to slide off the road, or worse. For me, anyway, life goes on.
Editor’s Note: Debbie Curtis is a journalist and frequent writer for School Transportation News. However, in recent weeks at her home base in frozen-solid New York, she has had to move, or consider not moving, through multi-feet-high piles of snow, which is admittedly something we know absolutely nothing about here in Southern California. Like the old saying goes, some things are better left to the professionals.