Kansas City, MO (November 11, 2014) – The American School Bus Council presented School Bus Champion Awards to two longtime pupil transportation industry leaders during a joint session of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Annual Summit and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) Annual Conference. Former Kansas State Director Larry Bluthardt and former NASDPTS Executive Director Bob Riley were presented with awards by NASDPTS President Max Christensen, on behalf of the American School Bus Council.
Mr. Bluthardt served as Kansas State Director for 24 years until his retirement in 2012. He was a tireless leader in the Kansas State Pupil Transportation association, and also a very well regarded member of NASDPTS.
His effect stretched far beyond his state’s borders, as he was instrumental in the creation and production of the National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey. The survey details annual fatalities at school bus stops around the country and is a valuable safety resource to senior pupil transportation industry leaders. Though fatalities at bus stops are infrequent, the Survey is used to learn from past tragedies and make changes and preparations to ensure that they do not happen again. In his remarks, Max Christensen said, “The better we understand these dangers, the better we can hopefully prevent them from happening. I think it’s safe to say, that due to the survey and Larry’s efforts in producing it, many young lives have likely been saved.”
Mr. Riley served as Executive Director of NASDPTS from 2006 until this past June, a position in which his dedication to yellow school buses and creative thinking were maximized. Mr. Christensen said that as NASDPTS, “among other things, he helped to develop some very close relationships with a number of federal agencies. This has been a significant factor in helping to move the entire school transportation industry forward in a very positive and progressive manner.”
He began his career as a school bus driver in Maryland, and progressed to working for the State Department of Education as a consultant on traffic safety and school transportation. Bob became State Director of Transportation in Wyoming in 1975 and eight years later he became the Assistant Director of Transportation Operations, where he was responsible for the safe transport of 70,000 students to and from school every day.
His dedication to the pupil transportation industry was perhaps best highlighted by his active involvement with ASBC. He was reliably eager to speak with media and non-industry partners about the many benefits of the yellow school buses, and his industry-wide portfolio of friends and connections made him an ideal ambassador for school buses. Upon receiving his Award, Mr. Riley said that “one of the best parts of this job was working with the three manufacturers and three associations as part of ASBC.”
Mr. Bluthardt and Mr. Riley are the first two former State Directors to receive ASBC School Bus Champion Awards. Past recipients are:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (for its Clean School Bus Program)
- The State of Utah (for retrofitting and greening its state fleet)
- Slain bus driver Charles Poland, Jr. for his heroism
- School bus contractor executive Dale Krapf (for his overall and environmental stewardship of the industry)
- Washington State’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and his Chief of Staff, Ken Kanikeberg (for championing school buses at the state level)
- Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Ray Robinson (for a career of dedication and volunteerism in support of school bus safety)
- Arkansas school bus driver Sheila Hart (for de-escalating a bus hijacking and ensuring the safety of her child passengers)
The Award recognizes exceptional support for and advancement of the school bus industry. All recipients have demonstrated leadership that has produced demonstrable positive outcomes for the communities they serve, as well as the school bus industry as a whole.
Award recipients stand out in their advocacy for pupil transportation and prove to be leaders in at least one of the following categories:
- Safety – For example, student movement tracking programs, student behavior monitoring programs (anti-bullying), fleet repair and maintenance, and staff training
- Access to Education – For example, expanding school bus service or maintaining existing service in the face of budgetary pressure to increase walking radii
- Environmental Benefits/Stewardship – For example, the pursuit and application of green technology, pollution reduction strategies, and anti-idling policies.
- Community Impact – For example, community-driven events and programs, relationship-building and partnership with local emergency response personnel
ASBC is a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation. It promotes the safety, environmental, and equal access to education benefits of the iconic yellow school bus. 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.