On behalf of the 120 school bus companies that comprise the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA), I want parents to know that the inspection results reported in a recent article (“Dems pen letter to agency over safety of school buses,” Nov. 23) are not a representation of the entire profession, and that the No. 1 goal of our industry is to ensure that Minnesota students get to and from school safely and efficiently.
The MSBOA represents Minnesota’s privately owned school bus contractors, which operate about 6,500 buses statewide. Our members represent an average of more than 45 years of experience in the industry and are responsible for more than 400,000 students transported 233,000 miles per day.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are 70 times safer taking a school bus to school than a passenger car. The state of Minnesota has high safety standards for school buses — which we believe it should — and school bus companies meet these standards time and again.
The Nov. 22 article focused on the failure rate of annual school bus inspections. Conducted by the Minnesota State Patrol, these extensive inspections are important for the long-term maintenance and safety of school buses. But it’s important to note that a bus may be marked a “failure” for something routine that needs to be fixed before the bus is used again; it doesn’t mean that an unsafe bus continues to be used.
Parents should also know that the standard in our industry is for pre-trip inspections to be conducted every single morning before each school bus leaves the garage. This takes about 10 to 15 minutes and allows school bus drivers to identify any issues that need to be fixed before the bus can be operated. If the issue can’t be fixed immediately, a substitute bus will be used.
Your child’s school bus driver is supported by an entire team whose top value is student safety. From the mechanic who ensures that the bus is mechanically sound to the dispatcher who makes sure that routes are executed seamlessly to the office staff who ensure that buses are compliant with state and federal regulations, student safety is the very core of our industry.
Garrett Regan is the president of the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA). MSBOA represents Minnesota’s privately owned school bus contractors, which provide more than 60% of the school buses used across the state to transport students to and from school and school-related activities.