How Safe Are Brick's School Buses?
State database now chronicles school bus safety records
School buses are inspected twice each year and must pass muster with the state Motor Vehicle Commission before your children can board them on their way to school.
But sometimes, a bus won't make the grade.
A check of state records shows Brick's fleet of school buses beat the statewide average in terms of the number of buses temporarily taken out of service.
Each year, the state's biannual, 180-point inspections result in approximately 47 percent of school vehicles being temporarily placed out-of service, with 12 percent being issued 30-day rejection stickers. Violations can range from serious issues, such as brake and steering system problems, to minor defects affecting interior dome and step lighting, state officials say.
In most cases, the violations issued are addressed and re-inspected during the same visit, the MVC said.
Brick's 187 school buses had an initial inspection out-of-service failure rate of 39 percent, 8 percent better than the New Jersey average.
The records show that 11 school buses were issued 30-day rejection stickers. The majority of these violations were for minor issues such as inoperable windshield washer jets. One of the buses was issued a rejection because the driver's heater fan only worked on one speed.
Buses taken out of service had problems that ranged from a fluid leak, to faulty reverse lights, to a seat determined to be in a poor condition. Another bus had an oil leak. Several had brake warning lights on and others had tire pressure issues.
The buses were inspected in late August, and several have been re-examined and deemed safe, while others have re-exams pending.
Information on school bus safety has always been part of the public record, however obtaining such information usually involved filing a formal request under the state's Open Public Records Act, waiting for the data to be compiled, then picking up the information on one's own time.
But last week, that all changed when the MVC decided to make school bus safety information readily available on the web for all to easily see. Parents can even search for their child's specific bus by typing in the bus's license plate number and searching.
"We want parents to feel comfortable that the vehicle used to transport their child each school day is safe and ready to go," said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez, in a statement announcing the new database.
Parents who want to access the database can do so by visiting this web page.