KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Before a school bus leaves the depot on a cold morning, crews work behind the scenes for hours to make sure each bus is ready.
First Student called its “cold start team” to respond to depots across Kansas City Thursday. Temperatures hovered in the single digits. The team started every bus earlier than normal, at about 4 a.m. Location Manager Michael Narcisse said some buses didn't start right away because the cold killed their batteries. Mechanics go from bus to bus to jump start and resolve any issues.
Narcisse's location includes about 230 buses which transport more than 10,000 students to schools within the Kansas City Public Schools district. He said the most important thing is making sure the heaters inside the cabins are functioning to keep passengers warm.
Durham School Services provides transportation to Blue Valley and Piper school districts. A spokesperson said its team uses heaters to warm up the interior of buses without having the engines idle, which is easier on buses.
The Durham crew takes advantage of a software program that electronically alerts the team which buses will need special attention to get started. Crew members focus on those buses first. Around Kansas City, Durham stores very few buses inside, but it does use block heaters to warm the engines so buses are more likely to start in the extreme cold.
Apple Bus Company said in extreme cold, they station crews at depots overnight. The team starts buses and lets them run every few hours to warm them up and make sure the batteries are charged.
All of these many steps are needed to meet the responsibility bus companies have to safely transport students to school.