Transportation continues top-level safety record

Transportation continues top-level safety record
Posted on 09/05/2018

For as long as anyone can remember, the Lynden Schools transportation department has recorded the highest-level safety report following state inspections. It was no different in 2018, as the Ruth Lunde-led department again showed high-level scores.

“It is always a high priority for us,” she says. “We do really well.”

As the new school year starts in Lynden, it marks the busiest time of the year for the transportation department. “We don’t know which students aren riding until we get our buses out there and see what our loads are,” Lunde says.

And the movement of the Lynden Middle School location adds an entirely new wrinkle for routes, timing and loads.

“At the start of school we are seeing where everyone is getting on and who is riding and not riding,” she says. She can’t finalize routes until the information from the first few weeks of school give them the data to do so.

At Lynden Schools, the department runs 14 large buses on regular double routes. Each driver takes a bus out for a middle school/high school route and then follows that up with an elementary route. The district operates another eight large-size buses to help supplement for field trips and extracurricular activities and also to have a bus ready to go at a moment’s notice in case of a breakdown or issue.

Add in special-education drivers and Lynden has 20 regular drivers with another 10 substitute drivers who were trained over the summer.

Once the busy August and September slows down, the transportation department remains on constant alert for maintenance and student needs. Along with Lunde and the 20 bus drivers, Bonni Mather works as the dispatcher and Bill Chapin the lone mechanic, regularly handling routine maintenance and everything that pops up during usage.

Following the school year, each driver does a thorough cleaning of their bus and any additional end-of-year maintenance or major repairs get taken care of. Then comes the start of a new school year and the figuring of the new routes.

All along the way, though, safety remains paramount, as proven by the highest-level rating given year after year by state inspectors.