Schools insure start of buses with extra precautions

Due to the extreme cold temperatures, school districts in the area have to take extra precautions when it comes to transportation.

Hopewell-Loudon Local School District has 11 buses, two of which are on stand-by, to serve nine routes.

With the recent cold temperatures, drivers have to arrive earlier to start the buses, Superintendent Nichole Jiran said.

“With the new building, the buses are in a different spot and not as protected from the wind,” Jiran said. “We just started to let the buses run for a while in the morning.”

All of Hopewell-Loudon’s buses are diesel-fueled, so overnight, the buses have to be plugged in so the engine block heaters stay warm, Jiran said. The heater warms the engine, where the oil is located, keeping the oil warm and making the bus easier to start.

Jiran said they have had their mechanic put an additive in the fuel to keep out moisture.

Tiffin City Schools Transportation Supervisor Randy Conger said they also added an additive to their fuel last week in preparation for the extreme temperatures.

“If the buses are not treated, the diesel fuel can gel,” Conger said. “In all the years I have been here, I have never had a bus freeze up.”

Conger said if a bus did freeze up, it would have to be towed to the garage to thaw out.

Tiffin has a fleet of 27 buses with four or five spares. The fleet buses are kept in the garage overnight, and the spares, which are not stored inside, are plugged in, Conger said.

In case of a break-down, Conger said they always have a bus ready to go.

A couple of Hopewell-Loudon’s buses broke down last week, Jiran said. “Having an extra bus is the difference of 10 minutes,” she said.

With the two spare buses, Jiran said they were able to smoothly transfer the students to a running bus and get them under way.

“It may make for a longer route, but they are not too heavily impacted,” Jiran said.

With snow and ice, the buses are equipped with heavy-duty snow tires all year long, Jiran said.

“Buses are like any typical vehicle when it comes to icy roads, nothing is going to stop,” Conger said. “Due to their size, buses usually are able to go through larger drifts.”