Local schools not seriously

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2000

affected by two bus recalls


Managing Editor

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Sept. 7, 2000 10 PM

A recent recall of more than 1,500 buses manufactured by the Blue Bird Corporation for potential steering column problems won’t slow the pace of the Pike County and Troy City school systems, which did not have a single bus affected by the recall.

The Blue Bird Corp., based in Macon, Ga., issued a recall Wednesday of 1,581 All American model buses manufactured since March 1998.

None of the Pike County School System’s 47 buses will be affected by the recall.

"We do not have any buses of that model," said Tom Jones, transportation supervisor of the Pike County School System. "Most of our buses are fairly new, but none of the ones we have are of that make and model."

Jones said the oldest bus the school system has on a regular route is a 1994 model. The nine back-up buses that can be called into operation are all 1989 model buses.

The Troy City School System operates nine buses, and Superintendent Hank Jones said none of the system’s nine buses are likely to be affected.

"Most of our buses are used for extra-curricular activities," Jones said. "I haven’t seen the recall form on these, but I don’t expect any of our buses to be of this type."

Jones said the system does not run regular school bus routes for students.

"We only have one daily route and that’s for our special education students who are multi-handicapped," Hank Jones said.

The recall was issued because of problems with some of the buses’ steering columns. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, cables in the steer columns had a tendency to become chafed, resulting in an electrical short.

Blue Bird reported through a letter that only about one percent of the recalled vehicles are believed to contain the defect.

The recall comes in the same week as the recall by the Ohio-based Bendix Corp., which wants to recall 46,000 buses because of breaking problems that have occurred in some bus models traveling at low speeds.

"We did have six buses that we looked at under the Bendix recall," Tom Jones said. "We have some newer models that are International Corporation buses that were built with the Bendix breaking system."

Jones said the checks on breaks proved to be successful.

"We have done a thorough examination of these buses and we did not find any problems," he said. "We are keeping an eye on our buses with this break system, but after a thorough examination, we didn’t find deficiencies."

Hank Jones reported that the Troy City School System did not have any buses with the problematic Bendix system.

"We did not have any buses affected by this recall," he said. "To my knowledge, we are in good shape."

Hank Jones and Pike County Superintendent Dr. John Key said they are committed to making sure that supposed problems with bus components are checked and inspected.

"This is something we try to look at very carefully," Jones said. "We want to ensure the safety of our children any way we can."

Key said he has the same philosophy.

"We expect our buses to provide a safe means of transportation to and from school for the kids in our system," Key said. "We carefully investigate and examine any potential hazard we are aware could exist. This is serious stuff and we want to make sure our students are safe."