NC Celebrates 100 Years of Safe School Bus

NC Celebrates 100 Years of Safe School Bus
Posted on 09/07/2017

North Carolina Celebrates 100 Years of Safe School Bus Transportation


Oriental (NC) may be better known for modes of transportation that float on water than those that roll on roads, but this small town on the Neuse River holds the distinction of being the first in North Carolina to use a motorized vehicle to transport students to and from school. In doing so, it ushered in a new era in education. School districts could now effectively consolidate and deliver students from outlying areas to centralized schools.


Since that day in early September 1917, when the former Oriental Consolidated School District rolled out what The News & Observer of Raleigh called a 30-passenger truck, the number of school buses in North Carolina has grown to 13,000 – safely transporting 780,000 of the state’s 1.5 million students every school day.


With Gov. Roy Cooper proclaiming September as Safe to School Month, North Carolina is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state’s first use of motorized school transportation. Although the first “truck” that was used in Pamlico County hasn’t survived, a vintage school bus from the early 1930s will be on display at the event in Oriental along with the state’s newest and most advanced model, complete with seat belts and GPS.


State Superintendent Mark Johnson said it’s hard to overstate the importance of school bus transportation in North Carolina.


“School buses are so much a part of our daily lives that it’s hard to believe that they were once a ground-breaking innovation. But they were back in 1917,” Johnson said. “Pamlico County’s school superintendent then, T.B. Atmore, was so proud of his “truck” that he drove it all the way to Raleigh, giving rides around the city to Gov. Thomas Bickett and other state leaders.”


State school and transportation leaders will highlight the critical role school bus transportation has played over the last 100 years in supporting public schools and serving students, families and communities across the state. Every school day in North Carolina, school buses travel nearly 1,000,000 miles, safely delivering more than half the state’s public school students to and from school.


Mark Ezzell, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, said most motorists approach school buses with caution.


“It is no accident that the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road,” Ezell said. “We encourage motorists to practice safe driving especially in school zones or in the proximity of school buses on roadways.”


Safety, to be sure, is at the top of the list of benefits from school bus transportation, but other important advantages result from what represents the largest mass transit system in North Carolina and nationwide with a total ridership of 25 million students. School buses help reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. For every school bus on the road, an estimated 36 fewer cars are being used to transport students to and from schools. In 2010, school buses saved the United States 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline, representing $6 billion.


For many students, the school bus is the only method of transportation to and from school. For those students, the school bus represents more than just a ride; it represents access to educational opportunities.


At Hickory Public Schools, according to HPS Transportation Coordinator, Renric Pope, the school buses, collectively, drive 1,554 miles each day. With 25 buses, 25 regular drivers and four substitute drivers, 1,770 students are transported to HPS each day. Safety first—as our children are precious cargo!


(Thanks to DPI for this article)


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