SPS Buses Staying on Track is a Team Effort

By Brett Martin | bmartin@kolr10.com

Published 01/27 2014 05:57AM

Updated 01/27 2014 06:56AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  With another bitter cold morning, standing in the cold can be dangerous even for just a few minutes, especially for young children.

KOLR10’s Brett Martin spoke with Springfield Public Schools to find out how they keep their buses on schedule every morning. 

Rick Emling, the Director of Transportation, says his crews make it to each stop on time 97% of the time, but its no easy task when temperatures and wind chills drop below 0.

Caren Tate has two kids who ride the bus five days a week and says she knows how dangerous it can be for them to stand in the cold.

"Its just too cold, I wouldn't want them standing out here. Sometimes they could wait 10 minutes or 15 minutes and its just too extreme for them to be out here."

She says she will drive her kids down to their bus stop to keep them from waiting.

"I think if its below 30, I usually bring them down to the bus stop," says Tate.

Rick Emling says keeping his buses on time starts before they ever leave the lot.

"We have pre-heaters in our buses. They are systems in the buses that keep the fluids warm and ensure that the buses are going to start."

He says a grant allowed them to purchase the pre-heaters for each bus.

Once they hit the roads, they use a Real-Time GPS to monitor all 128 buses.

"Every triangle is a bus, every yellow triangle, the bus is on time. The red ones, they are running late."

He says almost anything from road construction to accident can make a bus run late.

"The nature of the beast out there, every day there is a lot of things that you can't prepare for."

But with the GPS, they are able to help if the bus falls behind.

"We can zero in on that bus and be proactive with that late vehicle and find out what do we need to do to help it, send another bus to pick up some stops, whatever that might be," says Emling.

As for Caren, she says canceling school because of the cold is not always the solution.

"I think its all in what you are used to, I'm sure 30 degrees to the them is very extreme cold, but to us its not too bad."

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