Arizona Republic: 30 percent of school buses failed inspections in 2015

Arizona Republic: 30 percent of school buses failed inspections in 2015

TUCSON, AZ - An investigation by the Arizona Republic revealed about 30 percent of school buses in Arizona failed safety inspections last year.

28 percent of the buses in Tucson Unified School District failed their inspection between 2013 and 2015.

Twenty-nine percent of Sunnyside Unified School District buses did not pass inspection. While 26 percent of buses in the Sierra Vista School District did not pass inspection.

TUSD officials said they do their part to make sure the buses are as safe as possible.

All 307 TUSD buses are inspected by the Department of Public Safety every year. The district inspects the buses two more times during the year.

Ken Bolle, TUSD fleet manager, said the last DPS inspection found 19 percent of buses unfit for use, a decrease from previous years.

"I feel better that we're doing better every single year," Bolle said.

TUSD said there were 10,000 work orders for their buses last year. In most cases, drivers are usually the first to alert the district about issues with the bus. Bus drivers go through a check list every morning before taking them out.

He also said failure can be caused by a variety of things.

"A sticker qualifies as a failure. The same [things] as a brake job. So I believe the 19 percent doesn't tell the whole story," Bolle said.

According to the Arizona Republic, 276 failures between 2013 and 2015 for TUSD included a wide range of things, including "operating a bus with passenger seats not securely fastened to the vehicle", "no or defective rear-vision mirror - loose mirrors."

Other failures included issues with emergency exits, seat belts, tires, broken wheelchair ramps.

Heath Listiak, a TUSD parent said the findings of the report are concerning and she's had issues with school buses breaking down before.

She said she relies on buses to transport her three kids to and from school because she works.

"It is for the safety of our children. Because we can only so much as parents because once they leave out of our home, they're responsible for themselves and the school is responsible for them," Listiak said.

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