The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) now offers parents a way to double check the safety of their child’s school bus from their home, the commission announced on Thursday, Oct. 11.
The upgraded system showed a high initial failure rate for the Galloway Township School District's primary bus company, but the superintendents in both the Galloway and Greater Egg Harbor Regional districts reiterated the buses that transport students are all safe.
According to the report card, Integrity Transportation, the primary supplier of buses for the Galloway Township School District as part of the consortium headed by the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, had an initial service failure rate of 88 percent, and an initial passing inspection rate of 7 percent. There were 91 buses listed as “out of service rejections” that failed initial approval. Of those, 70 passed the reexamination, and 21 are awaiting reexamination.
Six buses with 30-day defects all passed reexamination, and seven passed initial inspection.
Statewide, an average of 47.17 percent of school vehicles are temporarily put out of service following initial inspection, and 95 percent are deemed safe for the road following reexamination.
“As with the inspection of any school vehicle that transports children, MVC inspectors are meticulous in their efforts to detect major and minor defects,” Martinez said. “It is this dedication to school bus safety that demonstrates to the citizens of New Jersey that we are providing a true benefit.”
Problems associated with Integrity included issues with the exhaust systems, steering and suspension, interior crash barriers, tires, doors, steps, bodywork and lights, among other issues.
There are 182 total buses in the company, and each listing gives the bus number, license number, inspection date, approval number and details for each bus.
If a bus failed inspection, the categories are listed, and enclosed in each category is the specific reasons the bus failed.
Both Galloway Superintendent of Schools Dr. Annette Giaquinto and Greater Egg Harbor Regional Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Cicciariello affirmed that the buses that transport students to and from school are safe.
"If a bus doesn't pass inspection, it's not allowed back on the road," Cicciariello said. "Every bus that transports students has met the safety requirements required by contract and by law."
"Although I do not like to see a statistic than shows one of the bus companies we use having a lower rate than the state average, our focus is on the present – ensuring our students are safely being transported on buses that have passed inspection. All of the buses currently transporting Galloway Township Public School students have passed inspection," Giaquinto said via email.
Integrity's owner was not available for comment on Thursday or Friday.
Galloway also has some contracts with First Student through the consortium, according to Giaquinto. First Student had an initial passing rate of 46 percent and an initial out of service failure rate of 40 percent. First Student has 213 total buses.
Parents can make use of the School Bus Report Card at the commission’s website 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the commission announced. The commission inspects all school vehicles registered in the state with a 180-point checklist, and the results are entered into the online report card for use by parents and guardians, according to the commission.
The commission recently upgraded the tool’s search functions, and the report card now supplies the number of buses within a particular school yard or bus company that were either initially approved or put out of service, the commission said.
It also notes:
* The reason for a bus' failure;
* If the bus is pending for re-exam;
* When that re-exam occurred or will occur; and
* Subsequent exam results
"We want parents to feel comfortable that the vehicle used to transport their child each school day is safe and ready to go," New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez said. “ … The MVC is serious when it comes to the safety of school buses, so we are very proud of the enhancements we have made to our School Bus Report Card.”
In addition to scheduled inspections, the School Bus Inspection Unit also performs monthly, unannounced inspections with the New Jersey State Police as part of the New Jersey School Bus Task Force, according to the commission. These inspections are performed to ensure that bus companies and school districts are keeping accurate records and completing regular maintenance on their buses in the months between the commission’s visits, according to the MVC.