School buses prepare for cold snap

Technicians check heaters on every bus, students allowed to bring blankets

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - School districts in our area are monitoring this cold front. Some have chosen to cancel school Tuesday and others are giving excused absences due to the weather.

In Duval County though, it's business as usual. You'll want to make sure your child is bundled up and properly dressed before heading out the door.

If your child rides the bus, there is extra work being done to keep them warm and safe.

Technicians have been on-sight at Student Transportation of America since about 4:30 Tuesday morning. They get here before the drivers do to get the buses started, warmed up, and ready to go.

Their cold weather plan was enacted Monday. Drivers were instructed to pump all the air out of the brakes and fill up the gas tank to avoid any delays Tuesday morning.

"The technicians will arrive early about 30 minutes before any route departure. They will start the buses up and make sure the brakes come up, we have no freezing conditions so that once the drivers come in and get on the buses we know that the buses will be warm by the time they get to the first stop to pick up the children," said Daniel Middleton, Maintenance Manager for Student Transportation of America.

Preparing their 250 buses that transport about 10,000 Duval County students for a cold snap like this takes some extra work. Technicians put in extra time during winter break to get the fleet ready.

"We already identified those issues where we have buses that have weak batteries or starting issues so when this type of condition occurs, our drivers can be assured their vehicles will start and they can get to their schools to their stops and get their kids to and from on time," said Middleton.

Middleton said keeping your children safe and getting them to and from school on time is priority, which is why Tuesday is an early day for the staff.

"We hope that the parents will also bundle them up for this inclement weather that's coming in addition to that… I know the heaters on the buses will be at full speed and then we have on our special needs buses, our drivers and attendants bring additional blankets so they can help these children stay warm," said Middleton.

There is a heater on every bus and students are allowed to bring blankets along.

They said technicians were on-sight early and will be there late so if there's any problem with any bus, it can resolved quickly so there are no delays.

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