Table of contents
Keeping your school bus fleet in solid, working condition is about more than student safety. A well-maintained school bus also reduces long-term costs, minimizes schoolday disruptions, and can increase the lifespans of your vehicles. But, to ensure your buses are in prime condition, you must lock down a maintenance plan.
School bus maintenance may seem straightforward, but there’s a lot to it that even professionals may overlook. Make sure your maintenance schedule aligns with your maintenance team’s capabilities, follows manufacturer recommendations, and sticks to your district’s budget.
What is school bus maintenance?
School bus maintenance refers to the continued internal, external, and mechanical service tasks performed to improve safety, cut costs, and extend bus lifespans.
Bus service tasks should include the care of a bus or fleet’s internal mechanics, external mechanics, fluids, electrical components, and all other affiliated vehicle parts. These maintenance tasks are typically performed daily, monthly, or annually.
Why is school bus maintenance necessary?
Each day, roughly 500,000 buses transport over 25 million students to and from schools nationwide. Keeping those buses safe and reliable is key to ensuring students’ safety and security. By performing preventive maintenance tasks, you can avoid accidents or malfunctions, preserving the safety of your buses and their passengers.
The benefits of school bus maintenance include the following:
- Improve safety: A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to break down, which makes for a safer experience for drivers, passengers, and everyone else on the road.
- Increase vehicle lifespans: Buses with regular, thorough care will likely run more smoothly, leading to fewer breakdowns and significantly increasing the equipment’s lifespan. The longer schools can use their buses, the lower the long-term cost.
- Cost-effectiveness: While planned maintenance might appear to cost more in labor and time upfront, unplanned maintenance tasks are more expensive in the long run. Emergency services are costly, as are significant repairs. Plus, frequent breakdowns can deteriorate your bus quicker, leading to a shorter lifespan and more frequent fleet replacements.
- Decrease disruptions: When vehicles are regularly maintained, they are less likely to break down. Reliable school buses are less likely to experience unexpected failures and downtimes. When your buses are in good condition, students are less likely to arrive late to class, or miss scheduled field trips and athletic events.
How to oversee school bus maintenance
If you oversee fleet maintenance, you need a system to track and implement all planned maintenance.
Your first tasks in taking control of your school bus maintenance management should be to assess your needs and evaluate your resources so you can create a realistic and sustainable plan.
Considering your current school bus maintenance process
Depending on the size of your fleet and district, you may fall anywhere on the spectrum regarding your team’s resources and budget. There are countless bus maintenance management systems you might implement, but it’s your job to determine what works best for you.
While anyone can benefit from improvements, teams struggling to keep to a maintenance plan should be especially eager to consider what’s holding them back and what they can do to fix it.
For example, are you looking for improved organization? Are maintenance tasks slipping through the cracks because requests are inconsistent and unclear? You might consider using fleet maintenance software to manage your school bus fleet or start slowly with a comprehensive bus maintenance checklist system as a jumping-off point.
School bus maintenance checklists
Bus Safety Checklist
Bus Interior Maintenance Checklist
Bus Exterior Maintenance Checklist
Bus Mechanical Maintenance Checklist
Creating a school bus maintenance schedule
Whether creating a maintenance plan from scratch or improving your current system, consider the best way to disperse the work outlined in the checklists above.
Here are a few school bus maintenance tips to get you started:
- Establish a due date and future cadence for each task based on manufacturer recommendations and your resources.
- Prioritize safety requirements. Check with your state and county requirements and ensure you prioritize those tasks above other non-essential maintenance tasks.
- No detail is too small; log every issue you encounter in your inspections, even if the problem doesn’t seem to require immediate attention. Addressing minor issues as they come can help prevent more significant issues from rolling downhill later on.
- Document all inspections, even daily or uneventful routine checks. Stick to a singular system and keep the information in one place where you can easily refer back by date, maintenance member, or vehicle.
Use FMX to track & manage school bus maintenance
If you are struggling to establish or maintain a school bus maintenance schedule, consider how fleet maintenance software can help you regain control.
Whether dealing with a time-consuming work request system, forgotten routine maintenance deadlines, or general disorganization, a software solution can help you save time and shift to proactive work.
At FMX, our fleet maintenance & management software can help you schedule time-based or meter-based routine maintenance to increase your school bus fleet’s lifespan and reduce downtime. We also offer automated assignment features for work order requests and full mobile access so that you can access work requests or checklists on the go. Plus, FMX supports step-by-step instruction sets so you can create inspection checklists specific to your team.