How school buses prepare for bitter cold - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

How school buses prepare for bitter cold

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(WMN photo) (WMN photo)
(WMN Photo) (WMN Photo)

It was another dangerously cold morning as students hopped on the buses to get to school.

With no end in sight, the bus companies are taking matters into their own hands to make sure no bus breaks down and no student is left in the cold.

If you think warming up your car takes long, imagine trying to warm up 100 buses.  That was the case for Durham School Services in Holyoke Wednesday morning as public schools were back in session for the first time since the holiday break. 

Ray Schmuck, general manager for the Holyoke yard, told Western Mass News that buses are warming up as early as 4:30 on a typical cold day, but it has not been a typical day, more like a week where buses just sat here in the yard. 

"In some cases, you may even have to stay overnight and run them during the night, then shut them down for a while, start them back up just to ensure they're going to start," Schmuck said.

Almost all of these buses have diesel engines.  Schmuck said that those diesel engines won't warm up like your car.  There is not enough friction among the moving parts to warm up while idling.  They instead are warmed up longer and are often taken out for a mock run of their route. 

Each driver is in charge of checking the bus from top to bottom.  Their route is then tracked by GPS to make sure no student is out too long in the cold.

"Kids will be standing out there, you don't want that.  You want them to be able to walk out that door and that bus is just pulling up," Schmuck added.

More than 150 drivers were out and about preparing for today.  Some came from out of state to be here.  Others are working two jobs.

Wherever they come from, one thing is certain - keep the kids safe, whatever the cost. 

"When you see it coming down the street, that's the time to put them out there.  We don't want to overexpose them to this weather," Schmuck said.

Holyoke Public Schools told Western Mass News that day one was cold, but a success.  Only one bus was delayed due to ice on the route and with more cold to come, the schools are being monitored for heat in classrooms, but weather is just another part of the job.

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