Becoming more efficient with Transportation Services
Becoming more efficient with Transportation Services
Posted on 10/05/2017
bus on lift

Over the past several years the Puyallup School District Transportation Services Department has undergone an incredible transformation. With a focus on efficiency and improved communications, staff have implemented a number of new practices and programs to better serve students and families.

Acquired in February of 2017, new bus bulletin software allows the district to notify families and schools by phone or email when there is a bus delay due to mechanical issues, traffic congestion, accidents, or driver shortages. This has reduced the level of concern by parents and staff members and has reduced the number of phone calls at the dispatch office.

Fleet upgrades have continued for several months, especially following the bus barn fire in 2016. The district has purchased 111 new school buses since the spring of 2014. This means more than half of the buses – 64%, are less than three years old. As a result, the vehicles are getting on average 30% better gas mileage, 90% less emissions, fewer breakdowns and the need for fewer spare buses.

Maintaining an updated fleet has also allowed the district to keep more buses on a depreciation schedulewhich actually results in revenue for the district.

In 2012 the district’s bus depreciation revenue was $529,219 annually. For the 2017-18 school year the depreciation revenue is projected to be $1,161,170. This action has eliminated the need to ask taxpayers to support a transportation levy.

When purchasing new buses and vehicles the district has chosen to specialize in limited makes and models. This reduces the variety of parts kept on hand. It also reduces the knowledge base necessary for mechanics.

As a result, the number of inventory items on hand has been drastically reduced and the average total value has decreased from $300,000 to $95,000 over the past four years. A more organized inventory also allows mechanics to spend more time repairing vehicles.

The district is seeing great benefit of an updated fleet combined with excellent work done by district mechanics. In August, 2017, the Washington State Patrol conducted an inspection of the district’s fleet with very positive results.

Of the 172 buses inspected, 99.98% passed the inspection. Only Two buses were declared “out of service.” One due to an emergency door buzzer issue and the other was not available for inspection. 

In addition, the department has upgraded and replaced deteriorating equipment such as a cold saw, air compressor, forklift, utility mechanic truck, two-way radios, and a snow plow attachment. These improvements better meet district needs more efficiently and in a timely manner.