They provide daily service to approximately 13,000 students, traveling 17,000 miles a day. “A lot of successes, a lot of challenges,” said Calvert County Public Schools’ (CCPS) Department of Transportation Director Edward Cassidy when delivering his annual report on the school bus system to the Board of Education (BOE). Cassidy and department supervisor Kevin Hook briefed the school board on the latest efforts to make pickups, transports and return trips more efficient while maintaining safety.

Cassidy explained the challenges include the fluctuating price of fuel and concerns about the fiscal impact to CCPS when a state tax increase on gasoline goes into effect. Other concerns include maintaining safety despite the higher of volume of traffic when buses are on the roads, weather and road construction.

Calvert’s school transportation is reliant on 26 independent bus contractors. School bus drivers in Maryland are required to pass a physical once a year. Cassidy reported that, per a new federal requirement going into effect in 2014, physicians administering the exams must be trained by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Three bus safety inspections are conducted at Prince Frederick Dodge and the state requires additional checks on buses over 12-years-old.

One pilot program Cassidy said has been very successful is the use of audio/video surveillance on several buses. The equipment is installed on buses transporting students to and from four schools. Whenever a school bus is involved in an accident a committee reviews the incident. “The video has come in very handy,” said Cassidy. “The camera system has helped us exonerate drivers.”

Cassidy said the video is a key component to accident and aboard-bus incident investigations but “does not take the place of an investigation.”

The Accident Review Committee reviews the circumstances of an accident involving a school bus, determines preventability and then the CCPS Department of Transportation does follow-up training for the drivers.

During the current school year, CCPS buses have been involved in 31 accidents, Cassidy stated.

The Transportation Department is currently reviewing bus routes for efficiency and will be sending questionnaires home next month. Hook predicted the department’s new routing software would dramatically improve CCPS’ transportation efficiency.

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