Arlington, VA (February 10, 2014) – At the American School Bus Council’s (ASBC) annual Love the Bus Main Event, 170 elementary school students sang, laughed, and learned about school buses from three senior officials with oversight over pupil transportation issues. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Mark Rosekind, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Transportation and Air Quality Director Chris Grundler, and Arlington (VA) Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy talked to students about the school bus this morning at Tuckahoe Elementary School in Arlington, VA.
At the Main Event, which serves as the annual focal point of ASBC’s month-long grassroots advocacy program, pre-school students sang a rousing rendition of “Wheels on the Bus” and their kindergarten through 5th grade classmates smiled and listened to good-humored talks from visiting officials. The event was a true celebration of the school bus, as the kids in attendance learned about the important role their bus drivers play, as well as the safety benefits and environmental efficiency of the yellow bus. The event was held in Tuckahoe’s multi-purpose room, where the walls were decorated with school bus themed posters created by students.
Administrator Rosekind eschewed the microphone and podium, and instead waded through a sea of excited kids, who were all wearing bright yellow “I Love the Bus” t-shirts. Grade-by-grade he asked students what their favorite part about riding the school bus is and what the important rules of riding the school bus are. He said:
“The School bus is just built to make you safer. Your drivers are there to help you stay safe. And you’re really important to stay safe, right? Because you are precious cargo. We want you here in school every day safely, able to get home safely every single day.”
Mr. Grundler began his remarks by listing a number of ways that the students in attendance could help the environment. Suggestions that they turn off their TVs and wireless devices in favor of reading books were not greeted with hearty applause by the kids. His proposal to conserve water by taking fewer baths, however, produced a notable increase in approval.
He also talked about the environmental importance of school buses, noting that Arlington Public Schools are one of seventy-six school bus fleets around the country that will receive rebate funding from the EPA to replace some of its older diesel-fueled buses with new models that are more than 90% cleaner. He told the kids:
“So for every trip a school bus takes, that means 36 cars don’t have to. That means less pollution, it means less traffic jams, and it means that your parents don’t have to go to the gas station every day. So that’s why I love the bus.”
For Superintendent Murphy, the Love the Bus Main Event was a public opportunity to recognize important staff that does not often receive credit for the important role they play in kids’ lives – school bus drivers and bus monitors. Dr. Murphy presented ASBC Certificates of Recognition to school bus monitor Nakia Arnold and school bus driver Fernando Rivas. Mr. Rivas runs routes to and from Tuckahoe every day, and received high fives from his passengers after receiving his award.
All six of ASBC’s Member Organizations were represented at the Main Event, and the excitement of the Tuckahoe students and the importance of the Love the Bus message were not lost on them. Leon Langley, President of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) said, “It is one of my favorite events of the year. What better message is there than children being excited about their school bus and showing appreciation for their drivers who have such an important responsibility?” Trish Reed, Vice President and General Manager at IC Bus, added that, “Just like our children's teachers, the school bus driver plays a significant role in each child's life. Essentially, they are teachers on the road and our school buses serve as their classroom. The Love The Bus event is one of many ways to celebrate their hard work and dedication.”
About Love the Bus
Love the Bus, which began in 2007 and is held every February, is a month-long celebration of the importance of the iconic yellow school bus, and includes events at schools, school bus yards, and other locations around the country. It raises awareness and appreciation for the experience of riding the school bus to and from school, as well as the diverse set of individuals whose daily efforts make the yellow school bus what it is today. Studies by NHTSA have shown that school buses are the safest mode of transportation to and from school for children.
For More Information
For more information about other Love the Bus events around the country or for assistance with planning additional events or procuring American School Bus Council marketing materials, interested individuals are asked to contact ASBC at 866-955-2722, or visit www.americanschoolbuscouncil.com. ASBC can also be found at Facebook.com/LoveTheBus and Twitter.com/WeLoveTheBus.
ASBC is a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation. The Council’s members include NAPT (National Association for Pupil Transportation), NASDPTS (National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services), NSTA (National School Transportation Association), Blue Bird Corp. of Fort Valley, Ga., IC Corporation of Lisle, Ill., and Thomas Built Buses of High Point, N.C.