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SPECIAL REPORT Finding Direction


As industry associations seek to provide clarity on how to get school buses rolling again, contractors share concerns and observations that affect public and private operations alike.


Written By Ryan Gray | ryan@stnonline.com I


n April, John Benish, Jr., logged a multi-city flight from his home in Chicago to Dallas to Florida and home again. The first flight


was light, maybe 25 passengers total. The last flight from Florida was more crowded, perhaps twice as many. Still, there were only two passengers seated per row, one on each side of the aisle. “When things get hopping again, the airlines are not going to fly at 20- to 30 percent capacity,” noted the chief operating officer of con-


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tractor Cook-Illinois Corporation and president of the National School Transportation Association. “The same with school buses. … We’ll split the children up as much as we can, but you’ve got to look at it from cost standpoint, too. You have to get to the point of practicality.” Fred Doelker, the director of safety and training for contractor Dean Transportation in Michigan, said common best practices are needed for 50 company locations statewide


that service 80 school districts and 80,000 students daily, two-thirds of which have special needs. “We can’t reinvent the box that


kids go to school in,” he commented, adding that the school bus was not designed as a social distancing tool. “We might need to reinvent what we think is reasonable. We don’t know, no one knows, so set up a best prac- tice. This is the toughest thing we’ve had to do. There are just no right answers right now.”


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