Most buses pass state inspection in Osceola County

School districts quick to make repairs

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The work required by bus drivers, transportation directors and bus mechanics can seem overwhelming.

Transportation departments in the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District are responsible for not only dozens of buses, but thousands of students as well.

In the spring, the Michigan State Police bus inspection unit was out on the road checking each bus in the state to ensure the safety of children.

“We have inspections to make sure all of the buses are safe for students,” said Sgt. Mike McLaughlin, supervisor of the Michigan State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division’s school bus inspection unit. “Transportation departments already do a good job, but we are here to lend an extra pair of eyes to make sure everything is following regulation.”

Inspection officers looked outside, under and inside of the buses, checking many aspects, such as brakes, steering, lights, seats and more.

Buses either passed inspection or were given a red tag or yellow tag.

A red tag requires the bus to be repaired before it can go back out on the road. For example, the brakes need to be repaired, the steering is worn or lighting is malfunctioning.

A yellow tag requires the bus to be repaired within a 60-day period, but it can be used to transport students. A bus typically receives a yellow tag for repairs such as tears in the seats or holes left from bolts removed on the floor.

Reed City Area Public Schools has a total of 19 buses and 16 of them passed inspection. One of the buses received a yellow tag while two received red tags.

“I think we did well with our inspection,” said Jo Wheeler, RCAPS transportation director. “We had a clear understanding of what needed to be done to keep the students safe.”

After the inspection, Wheeler said the feedback was something she really appreciated instead of feared because it helped give the transportation department direction on how to make the buses safer.

“We learned what we needs to watch out for on the buses,” she said. “The inspection was quite a bit of help.”

Evart Public Schools Superintendent Howard Hyde also was happy with the results of the bus inspection.

“It gets tougher and tougher every year because we have old buses to maintain,” he said. “A lot of the routes are on dirt roads and that causes rust.”

EPS has 13 buses and only one received a red tag while the rest passed.

“Our No. 1 priority is safety,” Hyde said. “We want to have the students traveling on safe buses.”

The MOISD has a total of 10 buses. Its inspection results showed nine buses passed, while one received a yellow tag.