The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) is a non-profit association providing advocacy, education and legislative consultation services to the owners of school bus fleets, school boards/transportation consortia and supplier/manufacturer companies across Ontario.  
August 3, 2016 - Issue 16

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Inside this Edition:
  1. Student Transportation Phase One Opportunities for Contract and Procurement Standardization
  2. Illegal School Bus Passes Exceed 13M Per Year, Survey Says
  3. Indianapolis Rolls Out Propane School Buses With Seat Belts
  4. Pursuing A Sharper Image
  5. Bellingham School Bus Driver Wins Title of World's Best
  6. Availability of Over-The-Air Programming For School Buses
  7. Upcoming 2016 Events
Student Transportation Phase One Opportunities for Contract and Procurement Standardization

The Phase I Report of the Student Transportation Competitive Procurement Review (STCPR) Advisory Committee was officially released on July 26, 2016 via memo 2016: SB22 from the Ministry of Education.  The memo was addressed to Senior Business Officials and Transportation Managers and noted the following:
“On July 14, 2016, Dean Currie, Chair of the Phase 1 Student Transportation Competitive Procurement Review (STCPR) Advisory Committee, submitted the Student Transportation Phase One Opportunities for Contract and Procurement Standardization to the ministry.  I am pleased to announce its release to the sector.  I anticipate this guide will be an important resource for school boards and consortia when considering standardization of competitive procurement processes and documents.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the STCPR Advisory Committee for supporting the work of the Committee. We appreciate the time and effort that the committee members invested into the process. I would also like to thank the Council of Senior Business Officials (COSBO), Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) Transportation Committee, and OASBO Supply Chain Committee for their input into the Student Transportation Phase One Opportunities for Contract and Procurement Standardization.
An electronic copy of the Student Transportation Phase One Opportunities for Contract and Procurement Standardization is available on the School Business Support Branch website.
Original memo signed by:  Cheri Hayward Director, School Business Support Branch, Ministry of Education; cc:  Phase 1 STCPR Advisory Committee Members; Jesse Pereira, Chair, OASBO Supply Chain Management Committee."

The STCPR Advisory Committee
was comprised of representatives from the Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO), the Independent School Bus Operators Association (ISBOA) and the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) along with Wayne McNally (Special Advisor) and Chair of the Committee, Dean Currie.
The committee was extremely committed to the timely completion of this project and was very cooperative in carrying out the duties as per the Terms of Reference.  It is important to note that the meetings of the Advisory Committee represented only a small portion of the work involved in this project and the committee members are to be commended for the ongoing preparation, consultation and creativity they brought to each meeting.
During the process, it was clear that there were a number of items/issues that will need to be addressed further in the later stages of this process.  All committee members expressed interest that their respective organizations be involved in Stages 2 and 3.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact OSBA President Les Cross –  705.229.6835.
Illegal School Bus Passes Exceed 13M Per Year, Survey Says

Article By: School Transportation News (U.S.A.)
Article Date: July 21, 2016

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation released findings from its 6th annual National Stop Arm Violation Count that show an estimated 13 million motorists nationwide may illegally overtake school buses that are loading and unloading students over the course of a school year.

The voluntary survey recorded one-day counts of illegal passing incidents from the observations of 20 percent of the nation's school bus drivers—more than 96,000—from 33 states and the District of Columbia this past spring. Drivers reported that vehicles illegally passed stopped school buses 74,421 times. Based on this number, during a typical 180-day school year, NASDPTS approximated there are more than 13 million illegal passings across the country.

“This survey captured only a fraction of the violations that bus drivers and traffic officers know all too well are occurring each and every day throughout the United States,” said Leon Langley, president of NASDPTS and the outgoing state director of transportation at the Maryland State Department of Education. “It verifies that, unfortunately, motorists continue to pass school buses at an alarming rate.”

Details of the report show that nearly all of the 2016 reported violations, 98 percent, occurred on the left or driver side of the bus. A total of 1,279 incidents were recorded on the right side of the bus, where students board and exit the bus, an especially dangerous traffic violation.

The report also found that 59 percent of the incidents occurred when oncoming motorists failed to stop for the bus. State traffic laws dictate that all traffic must come to a complete stop when a school bus activates its flashing red lights and stop arm to receive or discharge student passengers, unless a physical road or highway median is present.

While the number of reported illegal passing incidents this year is the lowest since the survey began in 2011, NASDPTS said in a statement that the results “have been unfortunately consistent. Last year, the study reported 75,518 illegal passes and 75,966 in 2014.

Langley added that the latest survey indicates “the importance of redoubling our efforts to educate the motoring public about the potentially tragic consequences of violating school bus stopping laws.”

Additionally, NASDPTS said its survey and others have led to several states adopting stricter laws on illegal school bus passings, increasing law enforcement patrols of areas with high rates of reported incidents, enhancing motorist education and implementing laws or policies that allow school districts to install video cameras to record violations as evidence for prosecution.
Indianapolis Rolls Out Propane School Buses With Seat Belts

Article By: School Transportation News (Indianapolis, IN)
Article Date: July 21, 2016

In an effort to further safeguard the child under their charge, Indianapolis Public Schools unveiled the purchase of 100 propane school buses outfitted with lap-shoulder seat belts.

The new buses are manufactured by IC Bus and come equipped with BTI Seating, which, combined with the IMMI SafeGuard three-point lap-shoulder belts, promise the safest ride possible for students and ease of upgrades for the district.

“What we do know about safety and the restraints that we have, is not only is it an opportunity to keep the students in their seats, but when students are in their seats, there’s a dramatic reduction in behavior issues, bullying, those types of things, so this is a great opportunity,” said Lewis Ferebee, superintendent of IPS.

The Indiana school district is one of several to follow last year’s recommendation from NHTSA administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind, who advised school districts nationwide to add lap-shoulder seat belts to their school buses.

“I applaud this initiative because it’s truly a decision that puts the wellbeing of our students first,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

Based in Westfield, Indiana, IMMI is one of the largest manufacturers of seat belts for school buses and child safety seating components in the country.

The decision to install SafeGuard seat belts should save the largest school district in the state money in configurations and repairs, according to IMMI.

“We’re proud to partner with a district the size of IPS, especially in our home state, as they lead the charge to keep students safer on the school bus by adding seat belts,” said Tom Anthony, president of IMMI.

The district has also sought out alternative fueling options with this purchase, shying away from diesel with the propane-powered IC Bus CE Series.

“We are excited to refresh nearly half of our fleet with the propane powered CE Series buses and look forward to seeing the benefit of using an alternative, clean burning fuel to transport our students safely and on time,” said Monica Coburn, transportation director of IPS.

Purpose-built for the school bus industry, the 100 new buses operate on the Power Solutions International (PSI) 8.8-liter LP propane engine, which “demonstrates our customers’ continued confidence in our products and acknowledges the significant benefits of our propane engine offering,” said Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus.
Pursuing A Sharper Image

Article By: School Transportation News (Houston, TX)
Article Date: August 2, 2016

When school bus seat backs were raised as a safety measure, it solved one problem but created another for Josh Rice, the director of transportation and fleet services in the New Caney Independent School District north of Houston. 

Traditional school bus camera surveillance technology and their configurations were rendered inadequate because the higher seat backs created “blind spots,” where some students—especially smaller, shorter ones—were out of the driver’s view. 

Rice addressed the issue by upgrading his camera system to a digital system and the creative positioning of six high-definition cameras. One camera covers the driver and the bus entrance, a bulkhead camera is over the driver’s head facing the rear; a third camera in the rear of the bus faces forward and a fourth dashboard camera faces the road ahead of the bus. The fifth and sixth cameras are staggered on both sides of the aisle facing in opposite directions. Problem solved and with a sharper image.

“We find that this eliminates all the blind spots we were experiencing,” Rice said. “When you’re dealing with student safety and student discipline, you always want to get the best view possible. Fifteen years ago, we had one camera in the front of the bus. Fortunately, those days are behind us.”

Rice said he’s not stopping there with camera technology, and the next bus order will come with an Internet Protocol (IP)-ready system.

“We’ve had HD systems for several years,” he said. “With IP cameras you’re getting near television quality images. IP cameras have better resolution so you have the ability to zoom in on people and objects without losing any of the quality.”

New Caney ISD is not alone in its pursuit of newer and better technology when it comes to camera surveillance systems on their buses. School bus operators appear to be trending toward upgrading their camera surveillance systems from the legacy digital systems to the more sophisticated, high-definition digital camera systems and IP systems. Rice and his counterparts nationwide cited increased student safety, affordability, convenience and staying ahead of the technology curve to avoid using equipment doomed to eventual obsolescence as reasons to establish a replacement cycle and stay with it.

The nearby Humble Independent School District has taken things a step further. Humble ISD Fleet Manager Ariel Rodriguez said that their buses feature HD cameras with Wi-Fi capability, giving the district the ability to download video without pulling the hard drive as well as the ability to view what’s happening inside the bus in real time when the bus is connected to a hotspot. 

Rodriguez said the ability to download the video without removing the hard drive extends the life of the hard drive and lessens the chance that it will be corrupted. The hard drives were upgraded to 2 TB on each bus. Rodriguez said the motivation for upgrading was that the old system was outdated, and that posed a threat to student safety. “The last thing we wanted was to have a camera fail in a critical situation,” he said. “We had situations on the bus where there was a camera failure and we could not view the video. To me that’s considered a safety issue and it needed to be dealt with immediately.”

Rodriguez said the Wi-Fi gives staff the time to react to situations in a timely manner. “If we get a call while the bus is in a Wi-Fi zone, supervisors, management and dispatch can look in live,” he said.  “We can tap into a bus from our smart phones for live feeds. That makes it so much easier.”

The Houston Experience

Houston uses an eight-camera system with seven active channels that provide maximum internal and external coverage. Montes added that the district is currently conducting a pilot program to download videos via Wi-Fi. He said that more Wi-Fi zones are needed around the city so video download capabilities can be expanded. He pointed out that technicians, safety and risk management personnel have the ability to go into the field and manually download videos to tablets whenever there are issues that need investigating. Eventually, Wi-Fi routers will be installed at each of the district’s remaining bus yards. “The new hard drives have a six-week memory,” Montes said. “So when the buses come in we can download the information and hold it longer than six weeks. We can address any issues within 24 hours.”

Location, Location, Location

Industry experts said camera location is just as important as picture quality. Cameras should be configured to cover the most real estate possible, internally and externally. School districts should assess their current and future needs when selecting a camera system. In many cases, a hybrid system comprising analog and HD cameras is recommended to save money and still be effective.

Lori Jetha, director of marketing for Seon, suggested that camera selection depends on what you want to see. She said there are two reasons to have an IP camera. “The first is outside the bus to capture a license plate,” she added. “We recommend at least one HD camera outside the bus. The second is if you want to zoom in on an area. If you have an analog camera and try to zoom in the image gets pixilated, breaks up and the image gets grainier and grainier.”

Clint Bryer, an account executive for Safety Vision, said placing an IP on the dash facing the road will serve multiple purposes in case of an accident. He said dash cameras have the ability to capture a license plate and can monitor road conditions, weather and traffic flow. “You can tell if a stop light was red or green, see children, potholes and rain-soaked roads,” Bryer said. “For greater distance views you have zoom capability.”

Bryer said another camera placement is to the left of the driver capturing the driver and the stairwell. “From there you can monitor students getting on and off the bus and driver-parent interaction,” he said. “A third good placement for an IP camera is the stop arm because you want to capture the license plate of violators.”

Quality vs. Quantity

Another decision school districts must make when shopping for HD or IP systems is memory capacity. REI’s Routh said one IP camera pulls as much data as eight analog cameras. “The higher the resolution the more information that needs to go to the DVR and is recorded on the hard drive,” Routh said. “With that in mind, if people want to adopt the use of multiple IP cameras or true HD cameras, it will eat into the amount of recording time. People need to perk up their ears to that. It would limit the time the cameras are recording to the hard drive. Schools would need to get bigger hard drives to have more memory.”

247’s Scott suggested that many people do not fully understand what HD really means. He said the sharper picture people see on their HDTV is a product of denser pixilation in the frame. “There’s a trade-off there,” he said. “The video is a computer file that stores data, and there’s more data per frame in an HD frame picture than in a regular digital frame. So storage becomes an issue. If a district wants to store 30 days of video it will need twice the storage (space).”

Buyer Beware

Industry experts cautioned school districts to do their homework when looking to upgrade their camera systems. That means school districts should not buy the new technology just because it’s there, but assess their needs against what is available and ask the right questions.

To address the storage issue, Scott said some salesmen will recommend a district record at a lower frame rate than the standard 15 to 20 frames per second. But, he said, this results in a poorer quality video with a “jerky” motion.

“Make sure you understand what you’re buying, the capacity you need at the frame rate you need,” Scott said. “It’s another buyer beware situation. You can capture a crisper picture of a license plate with an HD camera, but there is more to it than just HD. You have to dig into the quality of the product you’re buying.”

Scott advised that if a salesman suggests moving to an HD system, ask why you might need it. “Then make sure you get a good answer that fits your needs,” he said. “There is no compromise, so do your homework.” 
Bellingham School Bus Driver Wins Title of World's Best

Article By: KOMO News (Bellingham, WA)
Article Date: July 27, 2016

School bus driver Mark Miller is an ace behind the wheel of his rig, and has proven that by once again winning the Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition in Greensboro, N.C.

"I absolutely love the competition. It's a chance to demonstrate just how much a driver can hone the skills necessary to help make driving kids every day safer," said Miller, who has worked eight years as a substitute driver for the Bellingham School District.

Miller out-maneuvered about three dozen other drivers from the U.S. and Canada earlier this month in a competition that includes a written exam and a grueling series of driving tests.

"The ten driving events include parallel parking, and driving through tennis balls in a straight line with this much--about an inch on each side of the tire," he said. "The events are just barely possible if you do it just right. The idea is it's supposed to be super hard."

While there are no children on the buses during competition, drivers are expected to operate their vehicles as if they were transporting a full load of kids.

Miller works full-time as an airline pilot for Allegiant Air, flying Airbus 320s out of Bellingham International Airport. He is ecstatic about winning the competition.

"It's a real honor to hold the ranking of the number one school bus driver," he said. "I'm proud of that accomplishment, and I think it reflects the culture of drivers in the Bellingham School District."

Miller has won the international competition three times before, in 2014, 2011 and 2010. His honors also include eight wins in local competitions and seven at the state level. And while he relishes the chance to demonstrate his skills and go up against the world's best, he never loses sight of why those skills matter so much.

"I have two small children myself, and to be transporting seventy to eighty children at a time on a full school bus is a tremendous responsibility. We take that very seriously."
Availability of Over-The-Air Programming For School Buses

Article By: PR Newswire (Lisle, IL)
Article Date: August 1, 2016

IC Bus announced that over-the-air (OTA) programming of engine control modules (ECM) will be made available for IC Bus™ models powered by Navistar® proprietary engines and, going forward, by Cummins® engines.

By the end of 2016, OTA will be available for aftermarket purchase through IC Bus dealers for all IC Bus models, 2007 and newer, that are powered by Navistar proprietary engines. For new IC Bus school buses powered by Cummins engines, OTA will be available in January 2017.    

"Over-the-air programming is now a reality for school bus operators," said Trish Reed, vice president and general manager, IC Bus. "This first-in-the-industry innovation allows operators to update engine control modules with unprecedented ease and convenience over a safe, secure Wi-Fi connection, speeding their access to improved uptime and other benefits."

OTA programming of the bus's ECM will enable the bus driver, maintainer or fleet manager to utilize a mobile interface to initiate engine programming to approved engine calibrations. This quick procedure can be performed at the customer's facility over a safe, secure Wi-Fi connection. IC Bus continues to partner with industry-leading data and technology companies to ensure the system offers the highest level of security.

"Over-the-air programming also sets the stage for a future of connected vehicle services in the school bus community," Reed said. "This two-way connected vehicle technology allows eligible users to pull the data from the bus, analyze the data, and communicate back to the bus. This capability can potentially enable future engine calibrations and other updates to be tailored to the requirements of a particular vehicle."
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