Local News

Wake Says Bus Maintenance Is Improving; Some Skeptical

Posted May 2, 2007
Updated May 3, 2007

— Wake County’s school buses got poor marks in a state inspection, and officials say they have made changes. One mechanic with the school system’s Transportation Department said Wednesday, however, that not everyone sees improvements.

The mechanic insists the buses are safe, but he told WRAL that the potential for problems still exists.

The mechanic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the workload for each mechanic is simply overwhelming. He said he is responsible for more than 50 buses.

“It doesn't take much to miss something that might cause a problem,” he said.

The Wake School Board has issued a memo saying changes to improve school bus safety had been made, including realigning personnel so there are fewer buses per mechanic.

The troublesome score earlier this year wasn't the first bad inspection. The scores for Wake County have gradually been getting worse over the last five years.

In a scoring system where zero is perfect, Wake went from a 39 in 2001 to a 94 this year, which was one of the worst scores in the state. Fuel leaks, oil leaks, tire pressure were all cited as problems.

“We've been working for the last four or five months to turn things around,” Don Haydon, an associate superintendent for the school system said.

The district is looking for more people, too.

“We're recruiting as fast as we can to fill the positions we have and we're also seeking more positions to keep up with the growth,” Haydon said.

The Transportation Department is down five mechanics and is adding six positions next year. There's a job fair this Friday, and the system is looking at trying to offer more competitive salaries.

The school system requested a state re-inspection in June and hopes to improve its score.


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  • refiman May 5, 2007

    I guess they are saying that kids that ride the bus are skeptically safe? What does skeptical mean when it comes to safety??? My best guess is that skeptical means unsafe, just nobody has the set of nads it takes to say it, so they won't say it. I guess the kids have to have bigger nads than the people in charge of the buses, the kids have to ride them. the maintenance guys should be required to ride the buses once a week for an entire route, then let's see if they get safer.

  • lollly52 May 4, 2007

    Steve Crisp - you make sense to me 8 out of 10 posts. I'd like to see the WCPSS answer some of your questions.

  • Steve Crisp May 4, 2007

    To doc4215:

    Fuel leaks = broken or leaking fuel line. Could possibly be a bad intake gasket. Regularly replace lines or change gasket at intake manifold.

    Oil leaks = Front seals. Rear seals. Bad rings. Bad valve cover gasket. Possibly major engine work. Just keep several extra engines on hand to swap and rebuild used unit as needed on a paced schedule.

    Tire pressure = Hole in tire. Leaking valve stem. Bad rim. Fix hole in tire or replace rim. Replace valve.

    Those are the biggest problems according to the story. And I've just created a rough work flow chart with maintanance schedule without even charging a consulting fee. If you want more details and can't fill in the blanks yourself, I will have to charge for that.

    But it sounds like AAA Automark is doing far more work with eight bays and six mechanics than you folks can possibly churn out. And THEY'RE dealing with hundreds of different makes, models, configurations, and parts. You're dealing with essentially identical b

  • doc4215 May 3, 2007

    Steve Crisp
    You are self employed, so work the hours you want.
    We have staff at work from 5:30am to 6:30pm and staff on call

  • Steve Crisp May 3, 2007

    Then do all the inspections and non-emergency repairs at night. Why is it that the entire maintanence crew except for two or three can not work from 8 pm till 4 am? Or is the ability to obtain a job with hours satisfactory to ones chosen lifestyle now some sort of liberal "right?"

  • doc4215 May 3, 2007

    Steve Crisp
    You are correct about the number of employees and buses, but what you don’t understand the Wake County busses run three routes in the morning, three routes in the afternoon, miday routes and after school routes. That leaves about three to four hours a day to do the inspections, any repairs that the drivers report and repair the problems that are found on the inspections. Ours busses travel over 150 miles per bus per day now you do the math!!! How many employees will in take?

  • poke-a-dotcom May 3, 2007

    Not so Dumb...its not a matter of what you think...its what you advocate for...when was the last time you saw anyone advocating for better pay for school bus drivers or even full time jobs for them...

    People choose what is important to them...and People have chosen that their boxes are worthy of better paid drivers than their children!!!!

  • Not_So_Dumb May 3, 2007

    Silly me, thinking children are more important and valuable than parcels!

  • poke-a-dotcom May 3, 2007

    Not So Dumb...the problem with you analogy...are many

    first, the company delivering the boxes is a "for profit" company (most likely) which means they don't make any money unless their product gets delivered in a safe and timely manner

    next, the drivers of those trucks (I'll wager) get paid a lot better than the drivers of school buses AND they are most likely given full time hours with benefits, unlike their school bus counterparts

    next...most drivers of deliver trucks see their job as a "career"...but that I mean they have vested some time to learn about the operation of the vehicle they are driving...they plan on making a living for their family with that truck driving/package delivering job...school bus drivers are generally treated as the bottom of the bottom when it comes to our educational heirarchy...they have no vested interest in learning anything about their vehicle because not only would it not be appreciated it certainly wouldn't be rewarded

    and finally, in o

  • kcfoxie May 3, 2007

    If Wake cared about their busses, they'd stop using cancer-causing diesel fuel and switch to 100% biodiesel. With the age of these busses retrofitting the rubber lines to viton would be next to nothing, thats the biggest "upgrade" to switch to a non-cancer-causing fuel. Source: http://www.nrdc.org/air/transportation/qbus.asp