Tucson, AZ (September 11, 2013) – Representatives from the American School Bus Council were in Tucson, AZ on September 11, 2013 to welcome U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx at a school bus themed segment of Secretary Duncan’s annual Back-to-School Bus Tour. As part of the day’s activities, ASBC met a number of Administration officials, participated in a community service project with middle schoolers, and had a productive meeting with Secretary Foxx.
The Secretaries began their day – the third day of the tour for Secretary Duncan and the only day in which Secretary Foxx joined – at Tucson Unified School District’s central bus yard. At the bus yard, the Secretaries visited the on-site auto shop to thank the mechanics who keep school buses on the road, and chatted with bus drivers and administrators. Surrounded by a swath of local and national media, the Secretaries were quick with their tour of the bus yard for good reason – they were riding a school bus on its normal route and the bus had to depart promptly at 7:20 AM.
Prior to boarding the bus and riding the route to Dodge Traditional Magnet Middle School, ASBC representatives greeted the Secretaries and thanked them for making the school bus a prominent part of the day’s message. “Secretary Duncan and Secretary Fox truly understand the value of the yellow school bus in safely transporting kids to school,” said Jeff Merten, executive director of global marketing for Blue Bird Corporation. “Studies have shown that students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. This is a powerful statistic.”
Upon arriving at Dodge, Secretaries Duncan and Foxx fielded questions from the assembled media. When asked about the tie between education and transportation, Secretary Foxx said “School buses are…the safest way to get kids to school. Our research has shown that the school bus is even safer than riding in a car to school.”
After the media availability, ASBC members met with Secretary Foxx, who was just confirmed as the new Transportation Secretary in July. The meeting was an opportunity for ASBC to introduce the school bus industry to the Secretary and set the stage for future campaigns in support of the yellow school bus. The group also discussed the relationship between school bus transportation and academic achievement. "It was very encouraging to see Secretaries Duncan and Foxx working in partnership to recognize the importance of the school bus to our education system. The yellow school bus serves as an extension of the classroom and ensures that all children arrive at school safely and ready to learn," said NSTA President Tim Flood.
Following the meeting, ASBC representatives joined both Secretaries and an array of students in the cafeteria to paint “kindness coins”, which are tokens used by students at Dodge to reward and promote acts of kindness. Painting the coins is part of the school’s community service initiatives. Both Secretaries were rewarded with bags of coins and instructions to bring them home to Washington and use them to make the government more effective.
"Providing safe and reliable transportation for students, equal access to education and environmentally-friendly solutions is at the heart of the school bus industry," said Carl Webb, vice president and general manager, IC Bus. "IC Bus is proud to stand united with our fellow ASBC members in joining Secretary Duncan and Secretary Foxx in spreading this message." Thomas Built Buses President and CEO Kelley Platt summed the successful day up by saying "It's an exciting day for the school bus industry when ASBC can come together with the Secretaries of Education and Transportation to stress the important role school buses play in our education system. The school bus is safe, economical, environmentally friendly and the means for equal access to education."
ASBC is a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation. It publicizes the safety, environmental, and 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.