HomeOperations2023 STN Magazine Top Articles

2023 STN Magazine Top Articles

School bus illegal passing and electric school buses were among the most popular articles in School Transportation News magazine during 2023.

The STN digital magazine tracking also found that more than two of the top magazine articles focus on the importance of keeping students safe on board the school bus and school district personnel that positively impacted their community with going above and beyond in their jobs.

2023’s round-up recognized school bus maintenance “Garage Stars” (August), “Technology Super Users” (September), “Rising Superstars” (October) and STN’s Innovator of the Year Award (July), which went to Bill Griffiths of Beacon Mobility, as well as the Transportation Director of the Year, which is presented in the November issue.

Meanwhile, school districts continue to struggle with severe bus driver shortages nationwide, while leaders continue to promote safety for students on board school buses. Furthermore, professionals are constantly looking for alternative modes of transportation and encouraging school districts to prepare emergency evacuation plans.

This year, STN is reporting on the top-viewed story of each month. However, in terms of all time, 2023 magazine issues accounted for six of the top 10 viewed issues based on visit count.

Our team is grateful for the hard-working professionals who dedicate their time and appreciation to this industry.

The following news articles are organized by month of publishing.

January – 120 Seconds

This article focuses on the importance of creating an emergency evacuation plan that ensures the safety of students with special needs on board school buses. School bus evacuation training, knowledge of student’s abilities prior to evacuating them from the bus, knowing the importance of training students, communicating plans earlier, and planning/working as a team are some of the recommendations for executing a proper evacuation plan. Various sessions iatthe 2022 TSD Conference in Frisco, Texas, explained in more depth the importance of special training and included hands-on experience. Other topics such as evacuation during a fire, bomb threat, or approaching water, were discussed throughout the class.

February – Now You See Me

Parallel efforts are underway to make yellow buses more visible and to crack down on illegal passers at student stops. This article focuses on how to make school buses safer and more visible to reduce illegal passing incidents and their potentially lethal consequences. Some communities have reconfigured street designs to slow traffic, which can also make loading and unloading safer. Other districts have eliminated the practice of crossing students altogether and only make stops on the same side of the street as where they live.

March- Consider a Repower

The article recounts how many school districts are aiming to transform their diesel fleets into electric ones. The desire to update school buses nationwide has been growing in the past few years, with four times more school bus fleets applying for federal funding for ESBs in 2022 than during the first round of EPA’s Clean School Bus Program funding could account with its first $1 billion round of rebates. Many of the applicant school districts are in states like Connecticut, Maine, Maryland and New York, which have emission reduction or electric school bus mandates. New ESBs cost three times more than diesel buses and can take a year or more from order to arrival. Meanwhile, some of the current repower options are MTE and SEA Electric, Unique Electric Solutions, and Optimal EV.

April – Pay Scale

Readers sound off on transportation department wages and salaries in an era of record inflation and staff shortages. This article explains how the transportation industry continues to face one of the most severe personnel shortages nationwide. School Transportation News delivered a survey in February and March to 5,827 readers with job titles of transportation director or supervisor, with a total of 153 responding. In this case, the results were a snapshot of what salaries look like across multiple positions in the department. The article summarizes the results, concluding that the shortage of maintenance staff is every bit as bad, if not worse than school bus drivers.

May – Keeping Kids Safer at Bus Stops By Changing Motorist Behavior

According to the 2019 National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services survey 131,000 school bus drivers reported over 95,000 stop arm violations in a single day, which could equal to at least 17 million nationwide over a 180-day school year. Nearly 40 percent fewer school bus drivers participated last year in the most recent survey. This article looks at ways to increase students’ safety while riding school buses. Many schools do not have the resources, time or technology to be the sole protectors of students at bus stops, which is why laws must be written correctly. To create a change and increase the safety of each community’s children, the whole community, bus drivers, lawmakers and law enforcement should work in unison. It is noted that there are not enough officers to have one at every bus stop, so while it is impossible for law enforcement to cover every bus or bus stop, cameras are able to. Although videos and cameras do not change driver behavior, studies suggest that 98 percent of motorists who receive citations most likely never do it again.

June – Slow & Steady Wins the Race

School districts are slowly beginning their exploration of the use of electric transportation. With technology evolving districts are starting to adopt electric school buses. Dean Transportation in Michigan, Fremont Unified School District in California and Culpeper County Public Schools in Virginia are some of the districts that are aiming to replace the majority of their fleet with electric in the upcoming years. The article includes a list of steps that can be reviewed when planning on going electric.

July – There Is No ‘I’ In Team

This article focuses on Beacon Mobility’s Bill Griffiths, the 2023 Innovator of the Year. Griffith shared that his favorite leadership quote is from Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success.” Griffiths fit that mold before he became aware of the quote, as a young diesel mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. It continued to drive him when he was senior vice president of fleet and facilities at transportation contractor Beacon Mobility. “This award is awesome, but I have a great team here and every successful leader, usually behind them, they are backstopped by an exceptional workforce. My story is no different” Griffiths said. Griffiths was nominated for the STN Innovator of the Year Award by CEO Judith Crawford who wrote that Griffiths was instrumental in moving company innovation forward, as evidenced by the increase in technology.

August – Garage Stars

Technicians can fly under the radar when it comes to the face of the transportation department. Yet these employees are the ones responsible for ensuring that the school buses on the road are of the highest safety standards. With over 120 nominations, STN Technical Editor Robert Pudlewski’s 10-point criteria narrowed the list to the Top 10 Garage Stars that are featured in this month’s issue. Included is cover star Heather Schnitker-Blume, described in her nomination as “tiny but mighty” by Mindy Hahn, a dispatcher at Ohio’s Talawanda School District. Schnitker is an empowered woman in a historically male-dominated field working for contractor Petermann Bus. Read more about Schnitker-Blume and the other nine garage stars featured for this year.

September – A Marriage of Technology & Human Interaction

While AI systems are becoming more prominent in society, transportation experts say the personal element isn’t going away anytime soon. This article encompasses how artificial intelligence-based chatbot services are enhancing everyday skills for some people, but it brings fear to others who fear they might lose their jobs because of it. This month’s survey focused on the use of technology, in particular predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. Around eighty-seven transportation directors and supervisors shared their thoughts on advancing technology.

October –Rising Superstars

Industry professionals make names for themselves through dedication and expertise. Selecting only 10 Rising Stars to feature in the magazine is an annual challenge. However, the individuals profiled in this month’s article are truly flying under the radar when it comes to industry-wide recognition. Each of the 10 chosen is viewed as responsible and a true example of leadership.

November – Protected

For many transportation departments, challenges are minimal thanks to both advances in technology and solid warranty practices. This article looks at technology warranties, and what happens when the tech doesn’t work the way it’s intended to.

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