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HomeIndustry ReleasesNew York School Bus Contractors Association Presents Our 2023 Industry Awards

New York School Bus Contractors Association Presents Our 2023 Industry Awards

GUILDERLAND, N.Y. -The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) presented their 2023 industry awards during the association’s 69th annual convention held on October 20, 2023, at the Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, NY.

“This year’s conference turnout was the best we’ve seen in years. It’s always nice to see all our stakeholders get together and discuss all things school bus. On a personal note, it was special for me to end my presidency in my hometown and hand over the reins to a friend and our new President Thomas Smith.” Said Nick Vallone, the New York School Bus Contractors Association Past President.

“What a great conference we had celebrating the successes within our industry! We had a busy year with driver shortages statewide, and we all have been working tirelessly on navigating school bus electrification for our industry. I’m excited about the upcoming year, and with a new executive committee in place, we are ready to continue to move our industry forward together.” Said Thomas Smith the New York School Bus Contractors Association Board President.

Our highest honor is our Roger Weeks Contractor of the Year Award, presented to a contractor with an exceptional safety and performance record, superior maintenance and training programs, and deeply involved with their local communities.

This year’s Roger Weeks Contractor of the Year Award went to Daniel C. Higbie, General Manager of Mid-City Transit/STA. Dan is a consummate representative for the school bus transportation industry who makes a significant difference in the industry and with his colleagues. He has been an active member of NYSBCA for over 20 years and served on the board for at least 10 of those years. Dan is leading the way in transforming his fleet
to electric vehicles and is currently operating approximately 15 electric buses. His commitment to top-notch service and safety is exceptional!

“I am humbled and grateful to be recognized with the Roger Weeks Contractor of the Year Award for Mid-City Transit. The honor would not be possible without the unwavering support from the Student Transportation of America team, the steadfast partnership with the Middletown City School District, and my wonderful colleagues who work tirelessly to safely transport students to and from school every day. I share this award with all of them and thank the New York School Bus Contractors Association for recognizing me with this distinction.” Said Dan Higbie.

The Contractor of the Year Award winner is also honored with The Roger Weeks Scholarship Award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship to the Contractor of the Year Award winner’s school district of choice.

NYSBCA selected Vincent Riscica with NYSERDA to receive our “Leadership Award,” which recognizes an individual for their valuable contribution to the school bus industry and partnership with NYSBCA. Vinny has been a valuable partner as we navigate the transition to the electrification of school buses. He has worked with NYSBCA as a stakeholder to provide the school bus contractor’s perspective as NYSERDA develops the roadmap and guidebook regarding the mandate all new school buses sold in New York State be zero-emission by 2027 and all school buses on the road be zero-emission by 2035.

“Vinny has been working tirelessly over the last year and a half since he joined NYSERDA to introduce people to the idea of electric school buses, identify the challenges to Electric School Bus adoption, and find solutions to those challenges. He has understood the need to work with partners like NYSBCA to gather information, bounce ideas back and forth, and come up with solutions that work for everyone. Congrats on receiving this well deserved award!” Said Adam Ruder, NYSERDA Director of Clean Transportation.

The association gives out two Heart of the Industry Awards: one to an “on-road” employee and the other to an “off-road” employee. The Heart of the Industry Award honors an industry employee who, through the course of their job performance, has demonstrated a deep commitment to improving other people’s lives and has gone above and beyond to accomplish that goal. These awards are sponsored by Bird Bus Sales & Service and were presented by Robert Reichenbach.

NYSBCA’s On-Road Heart of the Industry Award went to Ijandor Mansey with Grandpa’s Bus Co. On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, several students were evacuated safely after a fire engulfed an entire school bus in Rego Park Queens. However, it was thanks to a real-life hero that this disaster did not turn tragic. The school bus driver, Ijandor Mansey, with over 30 years behind the wheel, is being given all the credit for shepherding half a dozen young, frightened students off the bus and away from danger. “The bus driver did a great job.

There were six kids still on the bus, and as soon as ignited, the driver was able to get them off quickly to a safe place out of the way. No kids were hurt,” FDNY Battalion Chief Brian Hanrahan said. “The bus driver was fabulous,” one neighbor said. “I think he’s a true hero, and the kids, thank God nobody was hurt. The cars can all be fixed.” Ijandor actions that day and dedication to his job will have an everlasting impact on the students, parents, and the industry. He is the true representation of the “Heart of the Industry.”

This year’s Off-Road award winner is Dell Transportation Corp.’s Susan Westad, nominated by Robert Pape. Susan has been a dedicated employee of Dell Transportation for 48 years and is well-recognized in the industry for her expertise. She is a guiding force to the staff at Dell. Her low-key, easy-going demeanor resonates with calmness in our fast-paced, hectic business. She begins her day at 4:45 am and often doesn’t leave until 5:30 pm. Her dedication and conscientiousness have made Dell Transportation a well-respected company in the industry.

NYSBCA also recognizes individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the school bus transportation industry under the category of the Distinguished Service Award. Terry O’Halloran with Suffolk Transportation Service, Inc. was selected to receive the Distinguished Service award for her many years of support and attendance at NYSBCA meetings. Terry developed a document that outlines the arduous task of the DMV registration process for fleet renewals, which helped NYSBCA to advocate for contractors and ask DMV to consider online registrations or a two-year registration for fleet renewals.

NYSBCA appreciates her willingness to develop a document that outlines the current process, including photos for a visual impact, along with suggestions to help NYSBCA in our advocacy efforts to improve the process for all school bus contractors. Terry is most deserving of this award.

NYSBCA also recognized the elected officials who continue to show their commitment to help with the school bus driver shortage and work with the association to navigate the electric school bus vehicle mandate as we come together to build a roadmap for this unprecedented initiative in New York State. This year’s recipients are Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and New York State Senator Shelley B. Mayer.

This year, we presented our Legislator of the Year Award to a state elected official who demonstrates an unmatched dedication to the association’s mission to provide the safest, most reliable, cost-effective, and unmatched student transportation possible. Senator James Skoufis continues to work with the school bus industry as we navigate the mandates for school bus electrification and the driver shortage. He sponsored a bill to amend the education law in relation to contract modification, which is our top advocacy priority.

NYSBCA has been honored with several members who have consistently been active and involved for decades in helping advance the association’s efforts. Robert Pape with Dell Transportation was recognized for his decades of service to the school bus industry and his impact with his colleagues, associations, state and federal partners as an advocate and a voice of the industry. NYSBCA congratulated Bob on his successful career and well wishes for a happy retirement to enjoy with his wife “Saint Judy” and his children.

About: The New York School Bus Contractors Association represents the private school bus transportation industry that provides transportation services to 85% of the school districts in New York. School bus contractors transport more than half of all the children who ride a school bus to and from school each day. The association’s mission is to promote safe, reliable, and cost-effective student transportation services for New York’s school children. For more information, please visit: www.nysbca.com

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