Phila. school buses undergo rigorous inspections

PHILADELPHIA - August 22, 2012

The problems have since been fixed, but have raised some questions about school bus safety.

School buses are responsible for transporting thousands of students to and from school every day.

Pennsylvania State Police have been conducting safety checks of these buses all summer long, and Action News asked for a report card.

Row by row, seat by seat, Pennsylvania State Police are going through every available school bus with a fine tooth comb.

"These inspections are very, very meticulous so a brake light or a turn signal not operable would be a failure," said Corporal Gerard McShea.

But a more serious issue could also trigger a failure, like the absence of certain emergency equipment.

Last year out of the 1,726 buses inspected from June to September, 391 failed.

This year, there has been a sharp increase in the number of failures. Out of the 1,544 buses that have been inspected so far, 702 have failed!

"Out of those 700 failures, there have been 1,800 warnings issued," said Cpl. McShea.

Of those 700 failures, the Philadelphia School District tells us a total of 86 district-owned and privately owned buses have yet to pass re-inspection.

But the district also tells Action News it has more than enough buses that have passed inspection to cover routes when the new school season begins.

And police say if parents and children are wondering whether certain buses are in good working order, all they have to do is look for the green sticker.

"If they pass inspection, we will give them the sticker that every school bus needs to have on top of their inspection, and they will be good for the year," Cpl. McShea said.

These inspections are performed by State police for free every summer at the request of the bus companies themselves.

"We will come out and give warnings over the summer just to make sure everything is up to date and give them a chance to make sure the buses are in the proper condition so they can transport the children," he said.

But come October, State Police will spot check the buses at the schools, and any violations found then will result in citations.

The school district says they do not have an answer for the spike in failed inspections, but the state police encourage parents to call them if they have reason to believe their child's school bus may be unsafe.

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