Technological innovations are helping the Tallapoosa County Schools Transportation Department keep students who ride buses safe.
Transportation director Len Carter said he is proud of video cameras and trackers that were installed on the buses almost 2½ years ago. The trackers can help monitor the bus routes and also be used if the vehicles break down and need assistance.
“We try to stay on top of things the best we can,” Carter said. “If we’ve got a new stop we’re going to make sure it’s not over a hill and it’s not over a curve or something because we don’t want to put any kids at any risk and do the best we can on that and be safe.”
Carter said there was one accident last year in which a bus was rear-ended while making a stop and nobody was injured.
“We’ll have a meeting every year prior to school with the drivers to go over some issues that we might have had this past year,” Carter said. “We’ve been fortunate on accidents.”
The transportation department has 46 regular-route buses, including five special needs and three trade school route buses, according to Carter. The department keeps 56 buses and also houses the driver’s education practice vehicles.
Carter said around 2,200 children ride the buses during the school year and the transportation department uses school buses for field trips during summer camps.
All buses are inspected once a month during the school year by the department and once a year by Alabama Department of Transportation, according to Carter.
The oldest buses are 2007 models and the newest models are from 2019.
Carter said the buses average about 7 miles per gallon and can use 2,000 to 2,300 gallons of diesel in two to three weeks.
The newer special needs buses have air conditioning and adjustable seats for the students, Carter said.
“We basically service the (special needs buses the) same way (as the standard buses),” Carter said. “The only difference is they’ve got lifts on them like for wheelchairs and the (maintenance) guys check those out once a month (and) make sure they’re operating properly.”